Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Ben Affleck Premieres ‘Air’ at SXSW: “The Most Important Night of My Professional Life”

Ben Affleck attends the world premiere of his new film Air at the South by Southwest Film & TV Festival in Austin on Saturday and quickly made it clear just how much of a success he wants his Amazon Studios project to be.

“Tonight is the most important night of my professional life,” Affleck announced from the stage, amid some self-deprecating references to past projects that weren’t widely popular. “It’s an optimistic, optimistic film about people. So I can’t hide behind being a writer – [as if to say] ‘You don’t need to understand my film.’ I In fact Hope you like it… So no pressure, but it’s all on you.”

Affleck directed and co-starred Air, a biographical drama chronicling the revolutionary creation of Nike’s Air Jordan shoeline. Judging by the premiere audience reaction, Affleck needn’t have worried about its reception — the film and its cast received a rousing ovation filled with scene stealers. Air Matt Damon stars as the Nike executive who signed Michael Jordan to his first sneaker deal, Affleck plays Nike CEO Phil Knight, and the film also stars Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker, and Chris Messina.

Damon called his role – and reuniting with his “best friend” and longtime collaborator Affleck – “the greatest thing I’ve ever done”.

“I showed up every day and there were five to seven [script] To do opposite actors like that on pages, it was ridiculous,” Damon said. “I’ve never had more fun. Ben and I – from the moment we read [Alex Convery’s] The final cut script we edited – it was a complete delight.

Davis – whom Affleck called “the best actor I’ve ever seen” – spoke about playing Deloris, Jordan’s protective, business-savvy mother. “Deloris and my mom were born into a generation of people whose dreams were their children. This is the height of Jim Crow. Black people are being told that their dreams don’t matter. So far that he has such a great vision for his son, and believing in him with all his heart, is a miracle in a way. It was an honor to play Deloris.”

Bateman seemed stunned by the crowd’s reaction to the film, “I couldn’t believe the screams and howls [during the screening],” he said. “What Ben and Matt were able to do with this story … It’s an American business story and they made a rock show out of it. They were somehow able to elevate what Michael Jordan means to all of us – what was already the culmination of greatness and excitement. I will never think of Michael Jordan or Air Jordan again because of what Ben was able to do with this movie, and create that kind of feeling that we all had.

In a rather bold creative choice, Jordan himself is not directly featured in the film, which Affleck explained was an effort to avoid having an actor impersonate a larger-than-life living legend that audiences were already familiar with. Were. He added, “There is no way I would ever ask an audience to believe that there was another Michael Jordan.” “Which was out of my own self-interest, frankly, because I knew it would destroy the film.” He also said, “It’s not a documentary. It’s not about who did what and said what… all the mistakes in the film are mine.”

Affleck said he showed the film to the real Phil Knight, “and halfway through I realized it might be a big mistake” noting how the film somewhat satirizes the Nike co-founder. “But people like to make fun of the boss, it’s part of the workplace culture,” he said. “I’ve been known to appear in an occasional meme.”

That said, he said he avoided contact with Nike and its executives during the development and production of the film. “I didn’t want to acknowledge any communication or contact or anything from Nike because I didn’t want to be accused of creating a promotion or a commercial or changing anything to curry favor with them.” Still, it’s hard to imagine Nike not being thrilled by the film’s extremely positive presentation of its company.

In hollywood reporterIn a current Cover Story profile of Affleck, the actor-director talks about the film and how he found directing a film where corporate America intersects with Black culture. He said, “I will not make a film whose central premise is the appropriation of black culture by white Americans for profit.” “It’s not my film to make. I’m telling a story that’s about a combination of things, and that’s one aspect of it. I’m not going to leave it because leaving it would add more disrespect. What I going to do is talk to people who understand this better than I do and who can help me contextualize it, and that was [costume designer] charles [Antoinette Jones], That was Viola. chris [Tucker]They gave me monologues, they gave me scenes, and it was very organic. And that’s why I was like, ‘I want Chris to get paid as a writer too. I want to be very clear that she is a contributing voice to this film.'”

Air Amazon will be the first film to release theatrically without a simultaneous release on Prime Video. The film is coming to the theaters on 5 April.

Times of National
Times of National
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