"American Dharma", Morris's extended interview with the
alt-right cheerleader, had its world premiere at the Venice Film
Festival on Wednesday, with some critics saying it gave Bannon,
who prides himself on his skill in manipulating the media, an
No fan of Trump, whom he called a "weasel", Morris said he
wanted to explore "what the hell is going on" in America and
beyond with the rise of populist ultra-nationalism.
Morris, 70, has made interview-based films on Donald Rumsfeld,
"The Unknown Known", and Robert McNamara, the U.S. defense
secretary during the Vietnam War, called "The Fog of War", which
won him an Oscar in 2003, and which Bannon himself loved.
"Dharma" is a Buddhist concept that Bannon says is his driving
force and defines as "the combination of duty, fate, and
Variety critic Owen Gleiberman said Bannon comes over in
"American Dharma" as "an avuncular and cultivated presence",
expounding on his favorite movies and chuckling about the Satan
"Itís hard to escape the feeling that Errol Morris got played,"
Gleiberman said, describing the interview style in the movie as
New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick, who had planned to
interview Bannon at a live event, canceled it this week after
filmmakers and his own staff complained it would give a platform
to a man they say helped legitimize violent white nationalists.
Director Judd Apatow said he would boycott the New Yorker
Festival if the interview went ahead, tweeting: "I will not take
part in an event that normalizes hate."
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But, in Venice, Morris bristled when reporters suggested he had
given Bannon an easy ride.
"If you are telling me that (the rise of populist nationalism)
is so deeply pernicious and destructive we shouldnít talk about
it all Ė I say thatís nonsense talk, youíre wrong. I think itís
extraordinarily important that we all talk about it and try to
come to a deeper understanding of it.
"I think remaining silent isnít good, Iíll go even further Ė
Iíll say itís bad. Just simply affording him an opportunity for
more public exposure Ė not good. Trying to explore the nature of
what he calls 'national populism', what it means, what it means
to the world, what it means for my country, I think is
Bannon did not attend the news conference but, according to
Variety, was in Venice and slipped into the premiere via a back
entrance as security had advised him to avoid the red carpet. He
did not speak to reporters.
"American Dharma" screened out-of-competition at the Venice Film
Festival which concludes on Sept 8.
(Reporting by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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