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Mike Leigh lays into reporter in Cannes

May 15, 2010

LeighYou can call a director’s latest film terrific, but it may not mean you get treated nicely.

Relations between filmmakers, actors and journalists inevitably come under pressure at the Cannes film festival, where people work (and party) long hours and often do not see eye to eye on the quality of a movie or performance. But in just three days of this year’s festival, there have been two terse, public exchanges between filmmakers, actors and reporters.

In Saturday’s flare-up, British director Mike Leigh took issue with a reporter from London’s Sunday Times. The bad blood between the two pre-dated the festival, but precisely why remained somewhat a mystery. The reporter was talking; Leigh wasn’t. Here is how the terse dialogue in the packed Cannes press room went:

Reporter: ”It’s a terrific film. I know we’ve had our disagreements in the past …”

Leigh: “You know, I don’t want to answer any of your questions and you know why, so I’d like to go on to the next question. Sorry, I refuse to answer your question and you know why that is.”

Reporter: “I don’t, actually, no.”

Mike Leigh: “Well now is not the time to discuss it, but you do. But I don’t want to answer your question.”

The reporter later said he had reviewed a recent film by Leigh unfavourably, but there may well be more to the animosity than that. Leigh is in competition at the 2010 Cannes with “Another Year”, about a happy couple with unhappy friends.

Only a few days ago, Hollywood star Russell Crowe took umbrage at a BBC radio reporter’s observation that his accent in “Robin Hood” had hints of the Irish about it. His response? “You’ve got dead ears, mate — seriously dead ears if you think there’s an Irish accent.” He later stormed out of the interview in a huff.

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