'Hail, Caesar!' Berlin premiere turns into refugee crisis debate

Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:59am EST
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By Michael Roddy

BERLIN (Reuters) - The international premiere at the Berlin film festival for the Coen brothers' "Hail, Caesar!" turned into a debate about refugees on Thursday as the filmmakers and cast found themselves challenged at a news conference to do more to end the crisis.

Over one million refugees arrived in Europe last year, many fleeing war and poverty. Thousands died in the perilous journey, mostly by sea and then land. The influx has put governments under strain, and countries are tightening their asylum rules.

One questioner suggested that George Clooney, one of the stars of "Hail, Caesar!", should do a remake of his film "Syriana" which was about murky oil industry deals in the Middle East, but this time focus on refugees.

Clooney responded that he would be meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday to discuss refugees, and would visit a refugee center.

Clooney, who is married to the human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, also said he had visited some dangerous places in order to help the cause of refugees. But he said he was not sure the cinema was the best place to try to solve the crisis.

"I think it is best told right now in the news media. I think it's not told enough – certainly in our country it's not told enough – and not talked about enough," he said.

The Coen brothers also pushed back at the suggestion that the film industry is the right place to deal with a major political and social issue like the millions of refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere.

"You're right that's a very important issue, it's something that I would be very interested to see movies address," Joel Coen said in response to another questioner.   Continued...

Actor George Clooney poses during a photocall to promote the movie 'Hail, Caesar!' at the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany February 11, 2016.      REUTERS/Stefanie Loos