Argo, Ben Affleck’s third film as a director was screened out of competition yesterday in
the Official Section and both director and actor Alan Arkin were well received at the press conference they gave afterwards. The film is based on a little-known aspect of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, and Affleck acknowledged that he had clearly borrowed influences from the great thrillers of the 70s, “I got to basically copy the style of movies from one of my favourite periods” he joked, but he stressed that Argo wasn’t deliberately in the American
tradition. He had wanted it to have an internationalist touch which is why he had used Iñárritu’s habitual collaborator Rodrigo Prieto as his director of photography.
He confessed that he would have loved to have shot in Teheran itself but after speaking to several Iranian directors he realized this would be impossible, which was a real shame as he found the people there were very open to Western culture.
Asked about the extraordinary on-screen chemistry between John Goodman and himself, Alan Arkin said that they had never met before but as soon as they did, they became friends. “Ben intuited we’d get along well.” He praised Affleck as a meticulous exacting director who was easy to work with: “when he acted there was no sense of transition.”
As for the key to directing and acting at the same time, Affleck said he tried to surround himself with actors who were better than he was: you do.”
Affleck also wanted to emphasise that his film wasn’t jingoistic. He acknowledged that his country did interfere in other countries but that not everything that the US did was harmful. He had aimed for his film to have the fundamentally humanist tone of Renoir’s work, although he
humbly acknowledged he still had some way to go to reach that level.