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Venice watch: Director's praise for Robin Williams

2014-09-01 09:40

Venice — The Venice Film Festival is bringing 11 days of red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press:

Levinson pays tribute to Robin Williams

Filmmaker Barry Levinson, who directed Robin Williams in one of his best-loved roles, says the late comedian was an extraordinary performer.

Levinson — in Venice to screen film fest entry The Humbling — directed Good Morning, Vietnam. Williams gained dramatic credibility, and an Academy Award nomination, with his performance as a fast-talking army radio DJ during the Vietnam War in the 1987 movie.

"He was brilliant and sensitive in ways that were extraordinary," Levinson said of Williams, who committed suicide Aug. 11 at the age of 63.

At a Venice news conference, the director recalled how Williams had improvised scenes with Vietnamese performers on the set of the movie.

"And his interest in the people was so fascinating that he was able to pull out their behaviour and how they thought and functioned, which really brought a life to Good Morning Vietnam up and above what the story details were," Levinson said.

"He had an enormous passion for people, a great sense of humanity and he was an extraordinary human being."

Lena Dunham gives do-it-yourself advice

Lena Dunham has some advice for young women hoping to get a foot in the showbiz door: Do it yourself.

The creator and star of hit sitcom Girls says technology has created new possibilities for creative expression.

"The biggest question that I get from young women is 'How do I get into the position that you are in?'" said Dunham, who got her start posting short films on YouTube.

"Making a movie doesn't have to be something that you do on location with actors. It can be something that exists in your everyday life. So that whenever I talk to young women I encourage them to take that road and make their own work and not to wait for permission to have their stories get told."

Dunham, who got an Emmy nomination this year for her role on Girls, was speaking at a Venice Film Festival event on Saturday sponsored by Miu Miu Women's Tales, a series of short films by directors including Zoe Cassavetes and Miranda July.

Organisers noted that July's film had been viewed online 670,000 times since being posted.

"That's more than saw the most recent Britney Spears video," Dunham said.

Dunham and Girls producer Jenni Konner also shared some trade secrets — including their exacting method for creating scripts for the HBO show.

Konner said it involved "a lot of Shonda Rhimes viewing ... and then take a nap, and then maybe watch one more Scandal. And then we'll stay up all night writing."


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