Film Scouts Diaries

1995 Montreal Film Festival Diaries
Montreal Diary #5

by Henri Béhar

What do you get when you put two Italians at the same table for a debate? A friendly row. That was almost the running gag at the press conference for "Un Eroe Borghese" ("An Ordinary Hero". Directed by Michele Placido, and starring Placido and a remarkable young actor named Fabrizio Bentivoglio, the film deals with the collapse of the banking empire of Sicilian banker Michele Sindona in the 1970s, which affected a wide range of financial and political institutions, and the efforts of a simple (but dedicated) lawyer, Giorgio Ambrosoli, to expose the ties that linked Sindona to the Italian parliament, the Mafia and the Vatican. (Ambrosoli was murdered in 1979). "You can't say nor imply that the Pope knew Sindona was dealing in drugs and arm trafficking," said Placido to his producer. "I didn't!" replied the producer. "All I said was the fact the Vatican had entrusted Sindona with some of its investments had given the banker more clout and a higher profile in the United States than he'd ever have had!" The two men, who'd worked on the project for quite a few years, continued their heated debate in Italian, in front of an un-verfklempt, nay, amused, audience. Talk among yourselves, I'll give you a topic.

On Monday morning, September 4, as the jury had finished its deliberations but "Who won?" was the hot question of the day, a journalist happened by accident on part of the answer. While finalizing his travel plans at the Guest Office, he overheard the office honcho arrange for cars to pick up actress Jennifer Jason Leigh and director Ulu Grosbard at the airport, as they were to return to Montreal, she from L.A., he from New York. He immediately concluded that Jason Leigh had got the Best Actress Award and Grosbard a high level prize--perhaps Best Director? . Would you believe it? The journalist didn't say a word. The events proved him right. Jennifer Jason Leigh did get the Best Actress Award, but "Georgia" (and Ulu Grosbard) got the top prize, the coveted Grand Prix des Ameriques.

Then we all clicked our heels to Carlos Saura's "Flamenco" (closing night) then went home to pack. See you next year -- on next Thursday in Toronto.

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