Category: MY EDIT

Johnny Depp by Jens Koch during the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin on February 21, 2020

Johnny Depp as Commander Spencer Armacost in ‘The Astronaut’s Wife’ (1999)

Johnny Depp at the “Minamata” premiere during the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Friedrichstadt-Palast on February 21, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

Johnny Depp at the “Minamata” premiere during the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Friedrichstadt-Palast on February 21, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

Johnny Depp at the “Minamata” premiere during the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Friedrichstadt-Palast on February 21, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

“So, this was something that Johnny had actually wanted to do. This is Johnny’s concept, Johnny’s idea, something that he felt quite passionate about,” he said. ” I don’t want to speak for him, but I think for him it was an intersection of two things, you know, truth and justice in journalism and also people, and we’d often talk about the idea that not everybody gets representation, that there’s people in the world that nobody looks at, nobody seems to care about, no one is paying attention to, and we’re often marginalized, and that’s something I know has kept him up at night a lot over his lifetime because he comes from that kind of background, and he’s always visiting hospitals and doing things, you know, as Jack Sparrow and this sort of thing, when no one is looking because he really cares, and so the film, for him, intersected in that place, and obviously I think the world could use a story like this right now.”

Levitas said it was an easy fit after he and Depp met at a meeting set up by their mutual agents. It was supposed to last 30 minutes but went on much longer. As a celebrated sculptor and artist himself, in addition to his filmmaking activities, Levitas was just as passionate as Depp about getting this right, and about doing it now. “Firstly, as a photographer and as a fine artist, Eugene Smith is one of my heroes. He’s a guy that I’ve been engaged with his work for as long as I can remember. And also for me as a filmmaker who’s trying to do films that are great to look at that show the human condition, that talk about the human spirit, that are hopeful. That was a thing that Eugene Smith was always able to do. He was able to show you the darkest corners of the room, but show you hope and humanity and joy and love and compassion, and so, he always matched up with me quite well,” he explained. “There’s still tens of thousands of victims fighting to be heard in Minamata, but there’s millions of people around the world who aren’t being heard, and I think this film is, for me, of course, was about making a beautiful piece of cinema and being engaged as an artist but also was about making something that everyone could feel a part of.”

Levitas says that dealing with a story about how corporations can contaminate the water we drink, the food we eat, was something he could zero in on in order to bring awareness. I brought up the recent Todd Haynes film, Dark Waters which dealt with similar subject matter in a small town where DuPont dumped tons of toxic waste, but Levitas emphasizes Minamata is laser focused on Smith’s story in bringing this all to light through his exquisite and heartbreaking photos (just one year before LIFE went out of business as a weekly), as well as the town’s determination and efforts to fight against Chisso and the government. I pointed out that even before Dark Waters opened this fall, DuPont had launched a misinformation campaign to hurt that movie at the box office. Levitas knows that could be coming here too.

“Well, I suspect it will get some of that. You know, I suspect some of that in front of us, but in this instance, we are telling a story that is quite well documented and we’re also seeing this world through the lens of Eugene Smith, through a specific man with a specific lens, and it happens to be a beautiful lens. It happens to be a lens that sees the best in those moments, and I think part of our approach to the filmmaking was to make a very attractive and positive movie, a movie that you’d want to see and enjoy even though it was, in some cases about some things that you might not enjoy,” he said. “But also in terms of his approach in the way that he walked through that universe, it’s not really about that corporation. It’s not really about their story. It’s about these people’s story, and so, my responsibility wasn’t really to the corporation or worrying about them in any way. It was about all of these people who fought and who are the real heroes of this story, and one of the things that I’m most proud of, and I think Johnny is as well.”

Levitas shot the film, which looks great and has a stunning musical score by Oscar winner Riyuichi Sakamoto, in just 36 days on a limited budget. “There’s a long list of people that stepped up, both in terms of putting finances into the film, and a long list of people that didn’t care about getting paid and just wanted to see the film made, and this is one of those stories. Of course, there were a ton of doors that were closed, ” he said about the difficulties of making a movie like this. “And when Johnny and I really just committed to getting it done, we knocked on doors. We called people, we found like- minded people and the big key to this was, we were not willing to take in investors or partners who wanted to mettle or water down what we were doing in anyway. We needed to make this in the most authentic, most honest, and cleanest way without any sort of outward hands getting into it, and we were able to accomplish that, and I for one am incredibly grateful to everybody that stepped up because they really did, and that’s the story of this film.” [x]

Congratulations to Johnny Depp for the success of the Minamata premiere. Wonderful that he is able to bring a subject he feels so passionate about to a extraordinary film. Wishing him all the best!

Minamata – Let Truth Be The Prejudice.

1971. With the glory days of World War II far behind him, celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith has become a recluse. He is at first dismissive of a commission from “Life” Magazine editor Ralph Graves to travel back to Japan and investigate the poisoning of the inhabitants of a fishing village called Minamata. But an impassioned Japanese translator, Aileen, urges him to accept, and Smith is finally convinced to do his best to expose the devastating effects of corporate greed, complicit local police and government. Armed with only his trusted camera against a powerful corporation, Smith must gain the broken community’s trust and find the images that will bring this story to the world. Johnny Depp plays the legendary American photographer with his usual consummate dedication, movingly demonstrating how fighting one’s inner demons is a necessary step on the way to greater victories.

We support Johnny Depp in his fight for truth and justice.

A Happy Valentine’s day to Johnny Depp, his loved ones and all the Deppheads all over the world! May today and everyday of your life be filled with love, friendship and peace!