Vanessa Redgrave, award-winning British actress and activist. Vanessa Redgrave has won innumerable awards for several of her films, including Julia, Playing for Time, Howard’s End and Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment. She received the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1999 San Sebastian International Film Festival. She is also a renowned stage actress and is currently starring on Broadway in the one-woman show, The Year of Magical Thinking, a personal memoir of loss written by Joan Didion. She is also an engaged political activist, committed to ending injustice, war and poverty around the world. She is currently a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, was part of the Radical Workers party in Britain in the 1970s, and was one of the first celebrities to publicly defend Palestinian rights and criticize Zionism.
Carlo Nero, British filmmaker Carlo Nero is the director of The Fever and Vanessa Redgrave’s son. He has written and directed a number of award-winning short films and documentaries.
The world-renowned actor Vanessa Redgrave joins us for the hour to talk about her new film "The Fever," premiering tonight on HBO. "The Fever" tells the story a wealthy European woman who is overcome by a sudden illness while visiting an impoverished, war-torn country, leading her to reflect on the privilege of the Western world in comparison to global poverty, violence and injustice. Vanessa Redgrave is one of the most famous of the Redgrave acting dynasty with a career that spans nearly 50 years. She has served as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and was a founding member of International Artists Against Racism. Along with her son Carlo Nero, director of "The Fever," Redgrave also talks about her lifelong dedication to political causes, including Kosovo, Palestine and global poverty.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Global inequality—most people are aware the world is a place of the haves and have-nots, that most of the Earth’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the richest few, while billions of others live in abject poverty. Well, a new movie asks the question: What is our moral responsibility for the state of the world? The Fever is the story of a wealthy European woman who travels to an impoverished, war-torn country. She’s overcome by a sudden illness, which eventually leads her to reflect on the privilege of the Western world in comparison to the poverty, violence and injustice that exists elsewhere. The film stars world-renowned actress Vanessa Redgrave.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: So the people who have a little determine a little, and the people who have a lot determine a lot, and the people who have nothing determine nothing. And the workers obey the instructions of the money. Money tells some of them to grow rice and transport it to places where children are starving, and it tells others to sew costumes and repair violins. And each day there’s an amazing moment before the day starts, before the market opens, before the bidding begins. There’s a moment of confusion. The money is silent. It hasn’t yet spoken. Its decisions are withheld, poised, perched.
AMY GOODMAN: Vanessa Redgrave, an excerpt of The Fever. It’s based on the play by Wally Shawn and directed by Carlo Nero, Vanessa Redgrave’s son. Its co-stars include Angelina Jolie and Michael Moore. The Fever debuts tonight on HBO at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Today, the film’s star, Vanessa Redgrave, and its director, Carlo Nero, join us for the hour. Vanessa Redgrave is one of the most famous of the Redgrave acting dynasty with a career that spans nearly 50 years. She served as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, was a founding member of International Artists Against Racism. In 1977, Vanessa Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary film on the plight of the Palestinian people. That same year she starred in the film Julia, about a woman murdered by the Nazi regime in the years prior to World War II for her anti-fascist activism. She won on Oscar for her performance. At the awards ceremony, she spoke out on behalf of Palestinians, an Oscar acceptance speech that is referred to to this day. Vanessa Redgrave is currently starring in a one-woman show on Broadway called The Year of Magical Thinking. It’s based on the book by Joan Didion. Carlo Nero, Vanessa Redgrave’s son, has written and directed a number of award-winning short films and documentaries. They both join us in our firehouse studio.
Welcome you both to Democracy Now!
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Thank you.
CARLO NERO: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Carlo, tell us about this film that is airing tonight on HBO. Tell us about The Fever.
CARLO NERO: Well, The Fever is—well, first of all, I should say it just feels extraordinary that such a film is being shown on HBO, on a channel that millions of people watch. I mean, I really feel honored and privileged, and I think that’s a pretty important thing to say, first off, because I know not many people get this kind of opportunity to show something like The Fever, and with all the themes and topics that it discusses, through the journey of this woman, this Western, privileged woman, who embarks on a journey of self-discovery, really, which is what the film is about, is a journey of self-discovery, both a physical, geographical journey, but also an internal, psychological, moral journey. And really, she’s like many people who think themselves as decent members of society—cares about other people, enjoys a good life, loves the arts, gives every now and then to a cause or something she feels is right—but starts to realize, as she meets certain people in this story and travels to other countries, that actually it’s all very well having high thoughts and good thoughts about other people and maybe even giving a little bit to charity now and then, but she starts to realize that actually it’s her way of life, our way of life, that ultimately is the cause of the misery, the oppression, the poverty that she sees in other countries, and, of course, in her own country, too. So it’s this realization of her responsibility in the scheme of things that causes her to question her existence. What is right? What is wrong? What is morally right? And what is a moral way to live once you start to realize how you are part of this web that continues the sort of seemingly never-ending cycle of oppression and misery and poverty for so many people, billions of people, who have no access to the resources, the natural resources, and opportunities that someone like her does?
AMY GOODMAN: I found it very interesting to see a woman playing this role, Vanessa Redgrave, because I saw Wallace Shawn perform it, and it’s really his own internal dialogue, really, about himself, his own experiences decades ago. How did you make that translation from man to woman?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Well, as you say, that’s how it was, until—I had known Wally for quite a while, and I asked him if I could perform his play, his solo play, twice on a Sunday in London, during a season my brother and sister-in-law, Corin and Kika, were organizing with me. And Tony Kushner wrote my sister-in-law a marvelous piece, which became Homebody/Kabul. Wally said I could do The Fever. My brother did De Profundis, Oscar Wilde. And after these two performances, I became convinced it should be and could be a film. I talked with Carlo. Carlo and Wally met up. Wally didn’t think it could be a film, but he said to Carlo, "Have a try. Write. Get back to me. Let’s see." And when Carlo came back with his draft, Wally got excited, because Carlo, as a writer-director, could see how the cinematic approach could be of this, as opposed to a good talking head, which wouldn’t make a film—it would be an archive, but not a film. So, I don’t think gender is the important thing, actually. That’s how it began. It began in Wally. It could begin in any of us, has already begun in a number of people. We’re in already a very different world from the world when Wally first wrote this play and started performing it in sitting rooms. The problems are much greater, and a lot more people are also thinking and trying to tackle these problems. That’s it basically, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Vanessa Redgrave and Carlo Nero—
VANESSA REDGRAVE: I mean, we’ve got a lot of different sexes inside us, as Wally told a journalist the other day. We do. We all realize that.
AMY GOODMAN: How did you get those B-rate actors, oh, Michael Moore and Angelina Jolie, to agree to this? I know they didn’t have anything else to do.
CARLO NERO: Well, the interesting thing is that despite their incredible—
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Commitments.
CARLO NERO: —commitments in films they’re making in other areas, as a lot of people are aware of, I think they were so taken by the story and by its content that they really decided that they would do their utmost to even find, you know, a day here, a half a day there, to just commit to doing whatever was necessary to help the film and to participate.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about their roles—Michael Moore, the journalist, in your film The Fever.
CARLO NERO: Yeah. Well, Michael Moore plays a journalist. He’s really a war correspondent, who has been living in this particular country, that is a nameless country, but it has gone through a sort of, I suppose, a populist popular uprising, revolt, that has brought about a sort of people’s democracy. The idea is that, that it’s a country where instead of having an elite few who control all of the natural resources, the land, the wealth, the whole population participates and benefits from this. Anyway, it’s that idea that he has witnessed this transformation in this particular country, so he finds it an interesting, rather exciting place to be in. But he’s also traveled elsewhere. He’s traveled to other regions, other countries in the same area of the world. And he says, "Well, you should"—he says to the woman, to Vanessa in the film, "Well, to understand what’s happening here and put it into the right sort of context, you have to travel to a neighboring country just 300 miles north from here to understand, because there these militias, government-backed militias, and death squads are terrorizing the population." And also, the interesting thing in this scene is they’re eating ice cream, and he says, you know, "There’s a vulgarity. You’ll see the vulgarity of the wealth of the people over there and compare it to what you’ve seen over here." And it’s sort of a—I mean, it’s interesting, it’s rather quirky, but I think it also touches on, in many ways, the themes of the film, you know, of the differences, the ever-widening gap, between the haves and have-nots.
AMY GOODMAN: We’ll continue this discussion after break. Our guests are the Oscar award-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave. She’s starring on Broadway now in a one-woman play by Joan Didion. We’ll also talk about that, The Year of Magical Thinking, and she stars in this film, a kind of interior monologue that is going to be airing on HBO tonight called The Fever. And it’s co-written and directed by Carlo Nero. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with them in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: Angelique Kidjo, "Agolo," here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. In fact, she is in another film that Carlo Nero directs, that’s produced by Vanessa Redgrave. It’s called Wake Up World: A Tribute to UNICEF. And we’ll talk about that United Nations and human rights activism around the world and how they’re bringing film to that issue.
Democracy Now! broadcasts on over 500 stations around the country, on Pacifica and NPR, low-power FM, college and community radio stations, as well as public access TV and PBS TV stations and both TV satellite networks, Dish Network channel 9415, Free Speech TV, 9410 Link TV and DirecTV channel 375. And we’re video and audio podcasting at democracynow.org, and our headlines are also available in Spanish in audio and transcript form for any radio station to take, as 150 stations are around the world.
I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue this discussion about The Fever, about disparity in the world. It’s airing on HBO tonight at 9:30 Eastern Standard Time. The British filmmaker is Carlo Nero. He directed and co-wrote, with Wallace Shawn, this play that was turned into a film, and Vanessa Redgrave, the Oscar award-winning actor who is also starring on Broadway right now. Angelique—we’ll talk about Angelique Kidjo in a minute, but Angelina Jolie, how she came to be involved, and where you filmed this, Vanessa?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Well, we approached her, and she was filming in the studios in London. And we showed her—we gave her copy of the script, and we showed her an eight-minute video that we had made with scenes that are actually still in the film that’s going out tonight. We had been advised to make a small video because distributors, this producer said, as we’d begun to suspect, don’t read scripts anymore. And he’d said, "If you can raise the money to make an eight-minute video which can show your cinematic approach, as well as the theme of this film, you’ll make headway." And Angelique’s decision, having seen this video and the script—Angelina, was that she wanted to do this. And she made, I think, a total of two days available for the scene she was in. And she, like everybody, was paid scale. Everybody was paid scale, and that was because they cared about what they were doing. And as you know, she’s a United Nations high commissioner for refugees ambassador, as I am, for UNICEF. So there’s strong, strong links, as well as our admiration for her as an actress, but also as a human being.
AMY GOODMAN: And you filmed most of this?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Most of it was Croatia, wasn’t it?
CARLO NERO: Most of it in Croatia. Ultimately, in Croatia. But we had—we were in a situation where Angelina Jolie had said, "Well, I can be available to do some scenes for this film, the scenes that I’m involved in." So, we were in a situation where we had her available to do these scenes, but sort of no money, no financing to do it. So, Vanessa, through her ways and means, put a bit of money together to shoot these scenes with Angelina, and we did this over a couple of weekends—one weekend in London and in—
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Spitalfields.
CARLO NERO: Spitalfields Market, and then the other weekend in North Wales, in a region of North Wales called Snowdonia, which is a very beautiful region, but—and that became really the area that her character lives in, in the film. And, of course, as we said, it’s a nameless country. I mean, all these places are all nameless, and yet familiar to anybody who’s aware of, well, what’s going on in the world at all.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: It was very deliberate, wasn’t it, being nameless?
CARLO NERO: Yes.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: And I think a couple of times we had a discussion with Wally about this, but we all came to the agreement that because the story could be any woman or any man in any country, and their journey could be to any country at any given period, the attention had to be directed to the responsibility within one person for what is happening, and not one country or one government.
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of responsibility, we last met in London. A Democracy Now! team came to your house to talk to you at a time when one of the Guantanamo prisoners had just recently been released, a few of them, actually, to Britain, among them Moazzam Begg. You had come earlier to the United States, specifically with your brother, Corin Redgrave, and others.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: And some families of the Guantanamo prisoners, so that we—and their lawyers—
AMY GOODMAN: Moazzam’s father and others.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Moazzam’s father, yes. The mother of Murat Kurnaz, German citizen, and her lawyer, who was released last August, and some of the other families. And we came to lobby—
AMY GOODMAN: And you had come to protest and lobby.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: —Washington and New York to raise the whole issue of—that here is a concentration camp, and we are all part of this. And we wanted to help the families, as only the families could get across what’s at stake for their sons, husbands, and that they should be released. And we had some wonderful support from Desmond Tutu. I’m not talking about financial support. We just raised that as best we could. Desmond Tutu supported us. Terry Waite came on the lobby, because he’s, I guess, the only Englishman or—who was imprisoned by the Hezbollah and held in dark detention, blindfolded for—I think it was five years. Well, there are a number of British guys still in Guantanamo. They’re not citizens; they’re residents. But their families are British. And the British government has refused to have them back, whereas Mrs. Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, when Bernhard Docke, the lawyer for Murat Kurnaz, wrote to her when she got elected, she answered him in three days and said, "Yes, I am going to Washington shortly, as you rightly point out, and I am going to ask for Murat Kurnaz to be released to Germany." And over a few months of all whatever it was that had to be done, he was released last August—I was in Germany at the time—and landed in Ramsberg in a large plane with about 30 soldiers and released, and he gave press conferences. But there are still about 10 who are residents and who should be returned to Britain to their families.
AMY GOODMAN: And as you’re here performing on Broadway, a federal court has made a landmark decision dealing a major setback to the Bush administration over its power to jail U.S. citizens and legal residents without charge, saying that the Bush administration cannot label U.S. residents enemy combatants and jail them indefinitely without charge. Your response to that, as the courts slowly start to take on this issue of people in this country held and also taking on the issue of Guantanamo, where hundreds of men are still held?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Sorry, Amy, you’re so right, but what did you want for me—
AMY GOODMAN: Your reaction to that, and also, being a British citizen in Blair country, coming to his partner in the war on Iraq and in a number of these detentions, your reaction, coming here and watching this news on U.S. soil?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Well, certainly, my first reaction is that whenever I see a judge or group—a bench of judges basing their opinion not on politics and not on their careers, but on international human rights law, Geneva Conventions, the American Constitution, for instance, also, I am very, very happy, because that’s proof of some of the strength that still lies in some judges. There’s a—having referred to Guantanamo, what is, I think, extremely alarming is the fact that in Britain, as in Russia, and in the United States, the governments over these last few years have tried to take actions, and have certainly said it in words, which would deprive the judges of their power to declare a government being in the wrong. Now, this is very difficult for a government, when the judges in the land tell them they’re wrong. In America, you’ve got the Supreme Court. We have the House of Lords. And thank goodness for our House of Lords, where our judges, who are lords, have time and again denounced the government in legal terms—and very passionate terms, too—for the laws that have been passed that have absolutely struck at the bases of democracy in Britain. And the same has happened in Russia. In Russia, there is not one judge left who will give an opinion based on international law or human rights law, not one, because they’ve been—the system has now totally prevented this, which is why you see Garry Kasparov coming out very courageously, the chess player.
But what’s alarming to me as a British citizen, and I know, for sure, to many American citizens, some of whom I know who are in the legal profession, whether in the Center for Constitutional Rights, where lawyers are defending—trying to defend against all the obstacles, defend the Guantanamo prisoners and get them out, as they should be out, and there are a few judges, too, and they’re magnificent—but what’s alarming is when you have a kind of decree-orientated leadership in a country, in Britain or in America or in any country, where a group—some are not elected, some elected—declare we are higher than the law. That’s a very alarming situation for citizens in any country, because break the law at the top, break the foundations which were laid after the defeat of the Nazis and fascism, after the Berlin Wall was overthrown and the totalitarian regimes were overthrown, too, break the laws at the top, and the whole of society becomes permeated with lawlessness. And history is the proof of that. So that goes together with the situation.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you met Prime Minister Tony Blair?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Yes, I have, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you talked to him about these issues, as well as the war in Iraq and his support for it?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: I’ve delivered a number of letters signed by Chechens in Chechnya and Russians. I’ve delivered letters for other reasons, including the Guantanamo prisoners, with—going with Moazzam Begg’s father. The only time I’ve actually met him was in fact when I was in a play, and it was the time of Kosovo. And at that time, it was a long-ago time. That was in early—that was in September 1999. I had been in Kosovo a lot during the Serbian military and Milosevic’s paramilitary’s horror in Kosovo. Some of my friends had been murdered. Many of them had been tortured. And I went and tried to get help, and did manage to get some help, especially for the artists, because, you know, I knew a lot of actors and musicians, classical and modern, in Kosovo. And at that time, although the NATO’s actions were, I think—the politics of those actions was just all over the place, I absolutely was calling for, and think it was right to call for, an intervention to stop the slaughter of the Albanian Kosovars. And so, at that time, not only I, but I think the majority of people in Britain were proud of Mr. Blair, because he was both introducing human rights law into the British courts, into the British system, which we very much applauded, and because—well, some of my friends were running a daily paper, Albanian Kosovar friends in Kosovo, and Mr. Blair and a number of English development ministers brought over money so that paper could be distributed all through the refugee camps, before finally it was possible to return to Kosovo.
AMY GOODMAN: And now Mr. Blair, perhaps the least popular man in Britain, at an all-time low certainly in popularity for what’s going on in Iraq right now, for his support, his relationship with President Bush?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: It’s a very difficult and interesting time, because there are some very decent people who have been in his government, and some of whom have stayed, and stayed basically to try and get overseas aid out and increase the aid and support the agencies that are responsible for delivering aid. But as you know, a number resigned. Clare Short, who was a fine woman in his Cabinet, resigned. And I think that’s a question of principle. If people give up a career to stand on principle, I think they help the situation enormously.
AMY GOODMAN: And now two men—
VANESSA REDGRAVE: So I admire her very much.
AMY GOODMAN: And two men have been imprisoned, tried, found guilty of violating national security in Britain for trying to get out a memo that reportedly is a document that says that President Bush asked Prime Minister Blair for support in the bombing of the Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha, in Qatar.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Oh, I didn’t know that. I think human rights law is the basis for any analysis and any problem. And that’s why I always try to see something that obviously involves politics, and you have to know what’s happening, but for a decision or an analysis of what could be done, one has to come back to the international human rights conventions and the international humanitarian agencies and human rights agencies to lead a way to solve problems. Today, we all know negotiation is what’s needed to bring help to children, to refugees. You have to negotiate with all kinds of people. Some people say this one’s bad. Other people say, oh, no, that one’s good. But for human rights work and humanitarian development, you have to negotiate. And one of the problems is that there is a lack of will to negotiate and a preference for the bombs. It’s a big problem—or landmines.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to break, but when we come back, I want to ask you about The Year of Magical Thinking, and I want to talk to you both about these U.N. films that you’re distributing through Dissent Projects, like Wake Up World: A Tribute to UNICEF. We’re talking to Vanessa Redgrave, Oscar award-wining actor, and Carlo Nero, British filmmaker and director of The Fever that’s airing on HBO tonight. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue our discussion with Oscar award-winning filmmaker, British actress and human rights activist Vanessa Redgrave and Carlo Nero, her son, also British filmmaker, director, co-wrote the screenplay with Wallace Shawn of a film airing tonight on HBO 9:30 Eastern Standard Time called The Fever, that stars Vanessa Redgrave, as well as other actors. Vanessa, last night, Anjali Kamat and I, our new Democracy Now! producer, went over to the Booth Theatre to see you in The Year of Magical Thinking, another one-woman show. Talk about this performance, your performance, and Joan Didion’s book, the story behind this play and book.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: It’s a story about the play of the play, which is, to a certain extent, based on the book, but the focus of the play is the mother, who’s fighting to keep sane, crazy with grief because her husband has died in front of her eyes one evening at the table eating supper, trying to keep her daughter alive in the hospital, Quintana, in a intensive care unit. And that’s the basic story.
What’s extraordinary in Joan’s writing, in the play, which is different from the book because it was intended to be a play, not a reading or a reciting or acting of the book, is the way she is capable of an analyzing in a very passionate, but also very, very clear way, the roots that the brain goes through trying to deal with panic, sheer panic, fear of losing her daughter, of failing her daughter, as she feels she failed her husband who has died and who she’s for a whole period convinced that somehow if she thinks things right and follows the right rules and the right procedures, that he will come back. And she desperately needs him to come back, not only because she loves him, but because she feels that her daughter can be saved if he came back to life. It’s the most extraordinary writing, and I’m so pleased to do it, because I know from the audiences that come that—most of whom, of course, have all lost a father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, child, sister, brother—that Joan’s play brings them to a point where they can find a certain strength and peace within their grief. It’s a very healing play.
AMY GOODMAN: Joan’s husband was John Gregory Dunne, the writer.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Yes, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: She lost her husband and daughter within one year.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Yes, just over, actually. The daughter died August 26, 2005, Quintana died. And he died on December the 30th, 2003.
AMY GOODMAN: David Hare directed the play?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Yes, he’s a wonderful director, made it superbly. Well, Carlo, you were in the audience, too, weren’t you, with Amy, last night? Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: We both heard the cellphones going on.
CARLO NERO: Yes, we both heard the cellphones, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: The background symphony.
CARLO NERO: Yeah, unbelievable.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you, yourself, had any kind of similar experience that you can identify with this?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Yes, I have. But I don’t speak about it, because, you know, Joan’s—as it were, I feel, Joan’s also writing for me. I’m both in the audience, and I’m on the stage. So there’s an extraordinary connection for me. And I think the audience also, members of the audience, all of whom are different human beings, find an extraordinary connection, from what I can make out.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, you just recently married?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Your father, Carlo?
CARLO NERO: Yes.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: And there’s no marriage certificate.
CARLO NERO: Well, I presented the rings, so—
AMY GOODMAN: So tell us about Franco Nero.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: He’s a terrific guy, directly in connection. I mean, he’s a marvelous guy, wonderful actor. One of the wonderful things he does is he raises money, I mean, continually, month in, month out, to keep an orphanage going for young boys who have lost—are all either totally orphans or have lost their father or their mother. And it’s outside Rome.
AMY GOODMAN: He’s an Italian director?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: He’s a—
CARLO NERO: Actor.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: —actor, actually, primarily.
CARLO NERO: Although, but he did finally direct his sort of first proper sort of the film not long ago.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Forever Blues, yes. It’s a really good one.
CARLO NERO: But he’s an actor.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: He’s primarily an actor.
AMY GOODMAN: And how long have you known each other?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Since we did Camelot together.
AMY GOODMAN: Forty years ago?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Which was 1967.
AMY GOODMAN: Forty years ago, exactly.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Forty years ago, yes, exactly.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Carlo, how did it feel for your parents to finally marry? Most people go through the divorce of their parents, not the marriage of their parents, most kids.
CARLO NERO: Yeah, well, it’s actually a wonderful, wonderful feeling, because, you know, I’ve witnessed since childhood a sort of very slow, long process by which they really were reunited, which is, I think, a wonderful thing. I mean, they’ve always had a love for each other, and despite the distance and differences. But, I mean, I think theirs is one of those wonderful stories of—symbolic stories, really, of how people can reconcile and allow their love to grow and nurture it all along the way.
AMY GOODMAN: Interestingly, in The Fever, in a flashback, the woman you play, Vanessa, is played by your daughter, Joely Richardson—your other daughter, Natasha Richardson, but Joely is in this film, who is your half-sister, Carlo. What was that like to direct her in this?
CARLO NERO: Well, it was wonderful that she was able to come to Croatia, where we were filming. I forgot to say. I mean, I never mentioned that we have filmed in Croatia. I mean, Croatia is an extraordinary place to film. And I have to say that the crew, the production, the whole team there was just phenomenal, and there was nothing they couldn’t do for us. And I just—I have to say this so if any filmmakers are thinking of places to film and getting extraordinary support, then Croatia is definitely one of those places.
And anyway, to come back to Joely, she came to do her filming, and it was extraordinary. We were in this studio, a sound stage, and doing her scenes, and she just gave herself completely to this role—not a big role, a small role, but important, pivotal role. And I think as a result, that the film has benefited immensely, as it has through everybody’s contribution. So, no, it was wonderful, wonderful to do that. I think, like everybody in the film, these acts of—these unselfish, sort of altruistic acts were for the good of something that everyone believed in and hoped would be made successfully, and then ultimately distributed and shown, as it is tonight, which is great.
AMY GOODMAN: Vanessa, as we go back and forth between politics, art, issues of art and resistance, I wanted to go to the issue of Palestinians. Now, this past week, the 40th anniversary of the Arab-Israeli War, certainly a good deal more critical coverage of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank than there has been in the past. Jimmy Carter, the former president of the United States, comes out with his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. You’ve been a longtime activist on this issue, of course, spoke about it when you won the Oscar many years ago, at a time that it was extremely unpopular in this country in the establishment to address this issue. You lost roles as a result of this? Would you feel your career was hurt as a result of your outspokenness on Palestinian issues?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Well, I certainly lost work, because one of the pieces of work was that I was actually engaged to do was canceled, and in taking legal action, I was lucky that the director of that piece of work was ready to be a first-hand witness, because he was so appalled at what had gone on behind the scenes, which was in fact—
AMY GOODMAN: What happened?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Well, what happened was I got into court. And—
AMY GOODMAN: What was the film?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: It wasn’t a film. It was a superb piece by Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex. And Peter Sellers was the director. And I did get into court. And—
AMY GOODMAN: They were forced to—you mean they released—
VANESSA REDGRAVE: What was going on behind was—what I’d like to stress out of all this is that the people who were foremost in supporting me in this legal case, not necessarily supporting all my views, but supporting me in this case, were in the Jewish community in Boston, and a rabbi who was prepared to be a witness. And people came with money in their hands, and I’d say, "Why are you doing this? How wonderful! Thank you!" because I needed money for the case. And they said, "Because if you don’t win, no job is safe," because that was the principle at stake. But, you know, I’m not—that’s a definite job, and of course I produced evidence of other jobs. But that’s what I discovered all along and have known to be a truth, all along, is that there is enormous support in every community, whether Palestinian or Jewish community, or indeed in an Israeli community, because, you know, I’m very honored to know the Avnerys, Uri and Rachel Avnery, of Gush Shalom, Jeff Halper, a number of exceptional people, others who are not well known but are actors and writers and directors, who are appalled that their governments have never—no Israeli government has done anything except set itself out to destroy the legitimate existence of the Palestinians and a functioning life and state and authority. And they work hard in their various artistic ways. And because I know that there’s so many people working, and of course amongst the Palestinians, that I can’t think about whether I lost a job or not. I really can’t. And now, anyway, we’re living in different times. You know, I think there’s a lot of people considering what they can do to help, who, even 10 years ago or 15 or 20 years ago, certainly wouldn’t be seen where they are now. I mean, take, for example—this is not connected directly with Israel and Palestine, except insofar as the agencies that are trying to help the—I mean, down there in Gaza, this fighting is taking place while the young 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds are trying to do their exams. Now someone’s cooking this up from behind the scenes. Someone. I mean, I don’t know who, but I know it’s been cooked up. And there’s despair and poverty, and these kids need help to go to exams. And I know the people who try to help them and protect them. And I know UNRWA, because I was there in Gaza two years ago with UNRWA.
AMY GOODMAN: United Nations Relief Agency?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: United Nations Relief Works Agency that was set up with the specific task of supporting and protecting the Palestinians in civil life. But again, as we saw, you know, if you cut off funds that are the legitimate funds due to a people, then the poverty is so horrendous that it’s going to explode.
CARLO NERO: And not just the funds, I mean, the access to natural resources, you know, because, I mean, I think that—
VANESSA REDGRAVE: And the access to natural resources, so right, and to trade.
CARLO NERO: Yeah.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: And to trade. I noticed that there’s—I think she sounds great, Greta Berlin. I daresay you’ve probably interviewed her before or will be. But she and a number of American women, including a Holocaust survivor, are heading off in a boat, and they’re going to try and land on the coast of Gaza. And everyone’s telling them in the media, "Well, you’ll never go to land because the Israelis won’t let you." And they’re saying, "Why not? Israel says Gaza’s not occupied. We can land." The problems are very intricate, but there are so many people ready to help, and I feel privileged to know a few of these people.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, you’ve done this film, Wake Up World: A Tribute to UNICEF, where you interview, among others, your son-in-law, also a U.N. goodwill ambassador, Liam Neeson, Angelique Kidjo, the musician. Dissent Projects, you are, the two of you, doing this together, mother and son?
CARLO NERO: Yes. It’s a company we set up, basically, with—our mandate, if you will, is to make films, documentary films, feature films, possibly, of a humanitarian nature, human rights, economic, social justice nature.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there. We will link on the website how people can get a hold of these films to show at community centers and theaters, on TV, Wake Up World: A Tribute to UNICEF. The film The Fever airs tonight on HBO at 9:30 Eastern Standard Time. Our guests have been Vanessa Redgrave, as well as Carlo Nero. Carlo Nero directed Vanessa Redgrave, stars in The Fever.
Recent Shows More
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to
democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions,