7500 press conference with director Patrick Vollrath, Joseph Gorden-Levitt and co-stars
Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivered a thinly veiled rebuke to Donald Trump at Locarno Film Festival. Gordon-Levitt described how 7500, the new film in which he stars, was a rejoinder to “politicians who get the crowd to cheer when they say something simple”.
The plane-hijack disaster movie has Gordon-Levitt as a pilot, Tobias Ellis, trying to safely ground a plane overrun by terrorists. It attempts moral complexity, and offers various shades of personality to characters committing fundamental acts of evil.
The actor made the comparison with standard-fare action movies, in which there are “good guys and bad guys” and the bad guy “falls off a skyscraper at the end – we all cheer because it’s fun to watch. But the real world is not that simple.”
“Here there are no string sections or dolly shots to tell you what to feel. There are complicated human dynamics. At times, rhetoric and discussion gets oversimplified.”
The film has had a warm reception at Locarno for its negotiation of weighty geopolitical issues in the mode of a tense genre thriller. First-time director Patrick Vollrath spoke about his research on those who move to Syria to join terrorist organisations, only to regret it and wish to return home.
In the film Vedat, an 18-year-old would-be terrorist of complex multinational background, becomes the focal point. Vollrath noted how during the film, “we see him disillusioned and then deradicalised in the moment. We wanted to show anger and the need for revenge… but also how to break the cycle of violence.”
Through security footage on the plane, the director noted how “we don’t see real faces, but as things develop we see more human elements and behind the image.” Vollrath trades on realism and filming took place in a genuine plane cockpit, creating numerous technical and practical problems. But this was all in service of tension and threat.
Additionally, an actual pilot, Carlo Kitzlinger, played the plane’s captain. He said: “I’ve been flying for 25 years and been a captain for about nine. For me it was like being at home. We have to handle such situations in the film as a professional – we have to handle the room and the anxiety. We don’t come unprepared. You save maybe hundreds of lives and then later you go to a psychiatrist.”
Aylin Tezel noted the violent nature of the shoot, in which actors were often left physically bruised. Vollrath quickly noted how production was made to be as safe as possible.
Gordon-Levitt stated his honour of starring in the film. “I’ve never ever been in that circumstance before. It is tragic that people live with trying life and death circumstances. This is about humans being unfortunately pushed to extreme situations and how they behave. No one is perfect, and the character I play is not perfect. No character is a saint or demon, and that is what is so extraordinary and intriguing about watching the movie. We are all human.”
“I’ve been acting 30 years now and I’ve never done anything like this film before.”
Featured image: Locarno Film Festival / Ottavia Bosello
Read more reviews from our Locarno Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Locarno Film Festival website here.