Sex and violence are fine by me, says Mel Gibson

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The Independent Online
THE ACTOR Mel Gibson defended on-screen sex and violence yesterday as he announced he was setting up a film distribution company in London.

Speaking to British journalists, the director and star of Braveheart referred to the recent Columbine High School shootings in Colorado in the United States, and the blame subsequently levelled at violent films.

"It's a bum rap," said Gibson. "Of course any of these things can go too far. There's a point at which it becomes really unhealthy. The school shootings were tragic but I think it's a bum rap that they always point to movies and TV. It's not a good argument. Sex and violence have always been around. I've seen plays from the 17th century where there are murders, rapes and a man having his tongue cut out. In Hamlet there is mental cruelty and murder.

"If you don't have transgressions, if you don't have some sin, you have no story. It's a necessary part of the storytelling. I'll grant that some things do go too far. In the film Caligula the violent sex went too far. But generally I don't think anyone in Hollywood takes the accusations seriously."

The 42-year-old Australian-born actor also said his company, Icon, had opened offices in Soho, which will employ 25 people. The first film they will distribute this summer is the Icon-produced Felicia's Journey, starring Bob Hoskins, which is competing at Cannes.

THE FILM producer Harvey Weinstein, the co-chairman of Miramax, revealed that American television is refusing to show Life Is Beautiful, the Oscar- winning Italian comedy based on the Holocaust.

Weinstein blamed the parochialism of US television for not having the courage to screen foreign films, and said he would be releasing an English-dubbed version of the film. The movie is already the biggest- grossing foreign release in the United States.

"Not one network has offered us a deal," said Weinstein, who also attacked Hollywood for trying to impose its movies on Europe.

"If US films continue to dominate local territories, foreign films won't be made any more. European countries' action should be to enforce quotas. It is the only way that an independent foreign cinema can survive," he said.

THE MOST eagerly awaited film of the festival, Cradle Will Rock, premiered last night at Cannes with the British actor Angus MacFadyen starring as film legend Orson Welles

The film, directed by Tim Robbins and featuring his wife, Susan Sarandon, also stars the British actresses Vanessa Redgrave and Emily Watson.

The movie, based on real events, looks at the first wave of anti-communism in America in the Thirties, particularly aimed at a theatre group run by the 22-year-old Welles. At a press conference before the premiere yesterday, Robbins said: "I had been looking high and low to find someone who could capture the spirit of Orson Welles and Angus had it."

ONE OF the most bizarre films in the history of the festival - a Buddhist football film directed by a reincarnated saint - was screened yesterday. The Cup is a comedy set in a Tibetan monastery in exile. Its residents, all Buddhist monks, share a passion for football.

The director, Khyentse Norbu, was recognised, at the age of seven, as the incarnation of a 19th-century Buddhist reformer and saint. He continues to serve as throne-holder of a monastery in eastern Tibet and teaches around the world.

Asked why he made a film about football, Mr Norbu said: "The only movies I saw for a long time were Hollywood movies which were full of car crashes. And the cost of even a second-hand car in Tibet is prohibitive. So I had to choose another subject."