MONTCLAIR, NJ - The 2016 Montclair Film Festival (MFF) presented a narrative feature on Saturday with writer and director Richard Curtis and Emma Freud at the Wellmont Theatre. Love Actually is a 2003 movie that takes place mainly in England and deals with the role love plays in the lives of eight couples.
The charismatic Luke Parker Bowles addressed the audience as a sophisticated, smart and attractive group of people, just for attending. After thanking the many sponsors he told the audience that a portion of the proceeds would benefit Red Nose, which supports poverty-focused charities in the United States and around the world.
Love Actually was centered on challenging the notion that the world has more hatred and greed than love. Hugh Grant opens the movie saying, “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling it’s [love] all around.”
Curtis and Freud discussed the making of the film over the course of two hours to multiple rounds of applause and hearty laughter. Whether they pointed out errors in the set, such as Hugh Grant’s tie changing during a scene, or they answered questions like whether the actors are really doing it, their banter entirely humanized the filmmaking process.
“Martin has a sack over his little willy,” Freud said, referring to a naked scene with Martin Freeman (famous for his role in The Hobbit film trilogy). She then repeated the word little.
The audience learned interesting details, from Hugh Grant dreading his dancing scene and therefore waiting to the last possible moment to shoot it, to the fact that the choir in the wedding scene, was the result of an idea that came to Curtis from attending Jim Hensen’s (creator of The Muppets) funeral.
Curtis claimed that they initially wanted to write the film in long segments but it turned out to be unwatchable. Curtis said, “All the intercutting was not meant to be how the movie began. It worked as a script but not as a film. It took six months of three dimensional chess to come up with what you’re watching now.”
They made light of a funeral scene. The actress chosen was a friend of the director. Curtis said it must have been the strangest job in her life. He called and asked her to be Liam Neeson’s dead wife. Curtis said, “Her job was to turn up, pretend someone was their child, have pictures taken, say goodbye, never see each other again and be linked together forever in this slightly bizarre scene.”
He told us that Billy Bob Thornton had strange phobias. He was terrified of 19th century Benjamin Disraeli British Prime Minister’s facial hair. Curtis joked, “This is what Trump is going to be like guys.”
The line to get into the event stretched all the way down Bloomfield Avenue. Not everyone fully understood the event was going to be a real time discussion with the movie on in the background.
Audience member Laura said, “It was a strange but fun event.” Aleksandra Mijalovic said she was surprised at how much footage never makes it into the movie. She said, "It was an informative experience finding out what goes into making movies."
The editing of film is a bit of an unknown that these discussions somewhat demystify. Upon leaving the theater that aspect of the program seemed to be on the lips of many audience members.
Joanne Eckstut, exiting the theater smiling, said she particularly loved Bill Nighty, though she felt all the actors were well cast. Eckstut said, referring to the editing process, “It was not a linear story. I think it’s brilliant how they put all the narratives together. It takes a genius to figure that out. They made light of it, but there is nothing light about creating something like that. Genius!”
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MFF Runs until May 8. For tickets, visit http://montclairfilmfest.org
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