October 12, 2007

Good? Bad? Ugly?

So did legendary Italian film composer Ennio Morricone get dissed in Korea or not? Morricone was in the country last week to be honored at the Pusan International Film Festival this week, but left early—depending on who you read, this was either all according to plan, due to an unprecedented mid-festival typhoon, or because of an unforgivable breach of etiquette. From the Seoul Times:
As part of opening night, Ennio Morricone was supposed have been honored with a ceremonial hand printing, but the inclement weather kept the legendary composer indoors and the presenting ceremony private.
But the Korea Times first reported this:
Afterward, the private opening party at the garden of Paradise Hotel greeted the stars and celebrities. Morricone, who was planning on topping the late-night event with the festival's first hand-printing ceremony, was unable to do so due to fatigue.
(The "hand-printing" ceremony is a festival honoree tradition, kind of like the way stars have left their imprint in the sidewalk outside Grauman's Chinese Theater.) The same paper later expanded on that report:
Ennio Morricone, the 79-year-old legendary Italian composer and conductor, was one of the important guests at Thursday's opening ceremony. But the maestro of film music and his wife were left unattended and unescorted at Thursday's opening ceremony.
Rumors went even further:
The most contested talk of the town was the alleged mistreatment and early departure of Ennio Morricone, the world-renowned maker of timeless scores from "Cinema Paradiso.'' With the sudden arrival of three contending presidential candidates, Morricone's red carpet entrance was pushed back during the opening ceremony. The 79-year-old composer had to remain standing for a very long time, and local media reports suggest that the festival staff did not treat him with respect.

Morricone did not show up for the hand-printing ceremony later on that evening. PIFF organizers, on the other hand, maintain that he left the country according to plan.
But the Hollywood Reporter says it's tabloid exaggeration:
However, the Korean press, especially the mercurial online variety, turned on PIFF this year, showering the festival with a barrage of complaints: Guest Ennio Morricone left the festival in an angry huff (false), a press conference for Lee Myung-se's "M" was far too crowded (true), a beachfront pavilion leaked (true, but there was a typhoon at the time).
The Reporter's reporter, Mark Russell, went into more detail on his blog:
Okay, the truth about Morricone, as far as I know. Morricone led a concert in Seoul on Wednesday (Oct. 3) night. He flew down to Busan on Thursday and, despite feeling ill (the dude is 80), he agreed to show up to the opening ceremonies, at least briefly. Morricone was picked up at the airport by one of PIFF's programmers (sadly, without a translator) and driven to his hotel.

Then he was taken to the opening ceremonies. There was a little disorganization backstage for a few minutes because of the politicians who wanted to attend (particularly Lee Myung-bak, who was quite late). PIFF organizers said it was about 5 minutes, while another person I talked to estimated it was longer. Morricone and his wife were then introduced and led to their seats.

After a few minutes, because he was feeling ill, Morricone went back to his hotel and skipped the opening party. He left early the next day, as scheduled.

No idea where the rumor started that he felt mistreated by PIFF. After all, he did the hand printing. If he was so angry, why would he have done that? There is absolutely no proof that anything bad happened (besides the delay at the opening ceremonies). Just a lot of silly gossip.
My guess is that Morricone would be too classy a guy to confirm whether he was disrespected or not. PIFF is one of the biggest film festivals in Asia, by the way, and swarming with journalists. Backlash? Spin? Or did the organizers really abandon their guest of honor?

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