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Berlinale: Stanley Tucci Defends the Arts as Trump Looms

Variety logo Variety 2/11/2017 Ed Meza
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On Saturday, Stanley Tucci became the latest star to blast U.S. President Donald Trump in Berlin, saying that if his administration has its way, it would “eviscerate funding for the arts.”

The actor, writer, and director spoke at a press conference following the screening of “Final Portrait,” which stars Geoffrey Rush as Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti and Armie Hammer as art critic James Lord in an adaption of the latter’s biography “A Giacometti Portrait.” Clémence Poésy also stars.

Asked if his film and the work of filmmakers could influence the Trump administration’s plans to cut funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, Tucci said, “I don’t think our film can influence the president in any way, shape, or form. There, government has always had an ambiguous relationship to the arts in the U.S. … I can imagine if this administration has its way, they will eviscerate the arts. Art should be an intrinsic part of life, but many people don’t see art as an important part of education. This administration may not even see education as important.”

Tucci testified before members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 on behalf of increased funding of the National Endowment of the Arts.

Discussing his film, Tucci said Lord’s book offered “a great articulation of the artistic process. Lord articulated it beautifully and in Giacometti’s own words.”

Like the book, the film revolves around the process of Giacometti painting a portrait of Lord over an 18-day period some two years before the artist’s death. Tucci described Giacometti as both “ancient and modern. There’s nothing quite like it — it’s truthfulness, abstract, and figurative.”

The filmmaker spent years developing the project since first reading Lord’s book as a young a man, and spent a decade raising the money for the film. Tucci sought to shoot the film, which is set in 1964 Paris, in a New Wave style, using two handheld cameras simultaneously. “Part of me wanted to shoot it in black and white, but that would not have been possible.”

Asked about his own relationship to art, Hammer said, “I like to consider myself an artist, and it’s an honor to work with great artists like the people who worked on this film. I hope some of that rubs off on me by proxy.”

Like his character in the film, who sits across an artist he idolizes and watches him paint, Hammer said he too got work with one of the actors he most admires. “All I did was sit in front of one of my idols enthralled.”

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