Drone pilot film at Venice meant to start debate, director says

Fri Sep 5, 2014 1:25pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

VENICE (Reuters) - Ethan Hawke stars as a drone pilot near Las Vegas who has a mental breakdown while killing targets 7,000 miles away (11,000 km) in "Good Kill", a Venice Film Festival entry shown on Friday and meant to spark debate.

Stating at the outset it is "based on actual events", the film directed by New Zealand-born Andrew Niccol, whose 1997 gene-manipulation movie "Gattaca" was nominated for an Oscar, takes place at a drone operations base in 2010.

"The thing that drew me to the project was the schizophrenic nature of this warfare - it's a new type of warfare," Niccol said at a post-screening news conference.

"We've never had a type of war before where a soldier like Ethan Hawke's character basically goes to war for 12 hours, fights the Taliban and goes home to his wife and kids and is with them for 12 hours," he said.

"That's what kind of drew me to the story."

He said the producers of what he said was the first fictional feature film about drone warfare sought the cooperation of the U.S. Department of Defense in making the movie, but this was declined.

"As far as getting it made, there were challenges because it's very difficult to make a military movie with no support from the military," he said.

"I hope it provokes a lot of thought and discussion, and as I said, I think it's a cautionary tale so we'll think about where we're going with this drone program," he added.   Continued...

Director Andrew Niccol (R) poses with cast members Ethan Hawke (2nd L),  Zoe Kravitz (2nd R) and January Jones during the photo call for the movie "Good Kill" at the 71st Venice Film Festival September 5, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile