Having participated in a panel discussion centering on human rights last week, Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino was apparently far from done addressing relevant concerns shot at her by “passionate reporters at a press conference last Thursday.
Emotional and visibly flustered, Sorvino was diplomatic in responding to comments questioning her activism with regards to Gaza, Iraq and Darfur.
One actor’s inquiry about Sorvino’s initial interest in human rights unleashed a series of questions blended with criticism of the United States’ foreign policy.
“I apologize for my country’s mistakes, but I am not going to take responsibility for them, Sorvino said. “I can’t control what my country does, I am not secretary of state and I am not in office, I did vote for someone who will hopefully make a change, she said, referring to President-elect Barack Obama.
Sorvino’s obvious frustration with some of the comments prompted the moderator to interrupt by explaining that “nobody is attacking you, they are just very passionate about these issues.
Attendees who applauded her efforts in fighting issues such as human trafficking, violence against women and the plights of the people in Darfur were just as enthusiastic to applaud each other’s questions about why she is not taking the same steps with Gaza.
“I am only one person, Sorvino, who is the spokesperson for Amnesty’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign, responded. “There are so many conflicts in the world . All I can do is pray for peace for both sides. Both sides need a home, Israel can’t be wiped off the map, she said before quickly adding that she “is not an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Other questions directed at Sorvino expressed dismay at the shortage of movies tackling the war in Iraq as opposed to ones about Vietnam, to which she responded also by saying that she does not have power over the Hollywood studios, and that if she did, “films wouldn’t be as commercial.
She continued by saying that this is the reason she prefers independent films because they are not constraint and have more artistic and political freedom, but at the same time stated that her artistic choices are “not bound by the US policy.
One reporter expressed his disappointment with the Hollywood actress’ views on Sudan President Omar Al-Beshir, asking her to “study the situation first.
Sorvino quickly overwhelmed said reporter with information about the Janjaweed, ethnic cleansing and the Sudanese government, asserting that this is not “American propaganda, but rather findings by Amnesty International.
“I challenge you to do your research, sir, she said.
Amid human rights concerns and subtle accusations, Sorvino had little time to talk about her career as an actress. She boldly admitted to auditioning for roles and being turned down by none other than Woody Allen, who, a year later, hired her to play Linda in “Mighty Aphrodite, earning herself an Oscar.
According to Sorvino, after Allen watched her audition tape, he said, “This girl has nothing to do with the girl I saw last year.
Like the press conferences that preceded it, dim-witted questions were unavoidable on Thursday. However, Sorvino was clever enough to maneuver around questions like “Would you consider doing a bold Sharon Stone movie? and took the opportunity to plug her latest two films “Like Dandelion Dust and “The Presence.
Also inevitable was a question that seems to be a CIFF press conference staple; “Would you consider playing an Arab character?
“I have never been offered a part in an Arab story, but I would definitely be open to it . if there are any filmmakers out there, if you have a script, hit me with it, she joked.
There was clear confusion surrounding Sorvino’s film, “Leningrad, that was to be screened at this festival. One reporter asked Sorvino why it will not be shown, but the moderator quickly jumped in, clarifying that the “film arrived here late.
However, Sorvino interrupted saying that because she was still unsure that she was coming, the film did not make it into the competition.
By the end of the press conference, it was clear that Sorvino was trying to tie loose ends. “You demonize the US here, she said, “If you spend time there you will find that people are not as racist and materialistic as you think.
“We are a country of many faiths, we are not a country of infidels. We have a religion, just not yours, she went on to say.
“Islam and Christianity share the same base morals, we believe in the same God . Allah and our God are the same.