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 UN 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.
Global inequality...most people are aware that the world is a place of the haves and the 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 this state of the world? "The Fever" is the story of a wealthy European woman who travels to an impoverished, war-torn country. She is 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, in an excerpt of "The Fever."
"The Fever" is based on the play by Wallace Shawn and is directed by Carlo Nero, Vanessa Redgrave’s son. It’s co-stars include Angelina Jolie and Michael Moore. "The Fever" debuts tonight on HBO at 9:30pm Eastern. 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 has served as a UN Goodwill Ambassador and was a founding member of International Artists Against Racism.
In 1977, 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 an 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 Didien. 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.
- 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 reknowned stage actress and is currently starring on Broadway in the one-woman show, "The Year of Magical Thinking," a personal memoir of loss writen 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 Britian 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.
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 haves and have-nots. Billions 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 woman who traveled to an impoverished, war-torn country. She is overcome by an 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: 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 is 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 Shaun 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. EST.
Today, the film’s star, Vanessa Redgrave, and it’s 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, and 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 Two 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 today in our firehouse studio. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!
CARLO NERO: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Carlo, tell us about this film airing tonight on HBO? Tell us about The Fever?
CARLO NERO: Well, first of all, I should say it is extraordinary that such a film is being shown on HBO, on a channel that millions of people watch. I really feel honored and privileged, and I think that is an 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, journey of self-discovery, both a physical, geographical journey, but also an internal, psychological, moral journey. Really, she is 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 of something she feels is right, but starts to realize as she meets certain people through this story and travels to other countries, that actually it is 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 it is actually her way of life — our way of life — that ultimately is the cause of the misery, the oppression and the poverty that she sees in other countries and of course in her own country too. So it is 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 a part of this web that continues this seemingly never-ending cycle of oppression and misery and poverty to so many people — billions of people — who have no access to 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 is really his own internal dialogue about 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 awhile. 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. 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, he said, get back to me and let’s see it. 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: b> We are talking to Vanessa Redgrave and Carlo Nero -
VANESSA REDGRAVE: I mean we’ve got 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.[Joking, with a smile.]
CARLO NERO: Well, the interesting thing is despite their incredible commitments in films they are making and 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 a day here and half a day there to commit to doing whatever was necessary to help the film and participate.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about their roles, Michael Moore the journalist, in your film The Fever?
CARLO NERO: Michael Moore plays a journalist, he’s really a war correspondent, who has been living in this particular country, that is a nameless country, that has gone through, I suppose, a populist uprising, revolt, that has brought about a sort of people’s democracy. The idea is 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. Anyways, 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 has also traveled elsewhere, to other regions, other countries in the same area of the world. He says, well, 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 are eating ice cream, and he says 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." I mean, it’s interesting, it’s rather quirky, but I think it also touches on in many ways the themes of the film 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 Vanessa Redgrave, she’s starring on Broadway in a one-woman play by Joan Didion, and 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 is co-written and directed by Carlo Nero.
AMY GOODMAN: I am Amy Goodman, as we continue this discussion about The Fever, about disparity in the world. It is 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 Kadjo 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 is going out tonight. We had been advised to make a small video because "distributors", this producer said, as we began to suspect, "don’t read scripts any more". And he 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 this and script–Angelina was that she wanted to do this. She made a total 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 is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Ambassador, as I am, for UNICEF. So there are 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 in Croatia.
CARLO NERO: Mostly in was 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 am 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, Spittlefield Market, and the other weekend in North Wales, in a region of North Wales called Snodonia, which is a very beautiful region, but–and that became really the area that her character lives in, in the film. Of course its, as we said, it’s a nameless country. All these places they’re all nameless and yet familiar to anybody who is aware of what is going on in the world at all.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: It’s very deliberate, wasn’t it — nameless. 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, 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 could, and their lawyers -
AMY GOODMAN: Moazzam’s father and others
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Moazzam’s father, yes. The mother of Murat Kurnaz, a German citizen and her lawyer, who was released last August, and some of the other families.
AMY GOODMAN: And you had come to protest -
VANESSA REDGRAVE: And we came to lobby 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–we wanted to help the families as only the families could get across what is at stake for their sons, husbands, and that they should be released. We had some wonderful support from Desmond Tutu — not talking about financial support. We just raised that as best we could. But, Desmond Tutu supported us. Terry Wait came on the lobby, because he is, 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. There are a number of British guys still in Guantanamo. They are not citizens. They are residents. But their families are British, and the British government has refused to have them back. Whereas Mrs. Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, when [inaudible] the lawyer for Murat, wrote to her, when she got elected. She answered him in three days and said "yes, and I am going to Washington shortly, as you rightly point out, to ask for him to be released to Germany. And over a few months or whatever it was to have to be done, he was released last August. I was in Germany at the time, and landed in Ramsburg in a large plane with about thirty soldiers, and released, and he gave press conferences. But there are still about ten who are residents and who should be returned to Britain, to their families.
AMY GOODMAN: And as you are here performing on Broadway. A federal court has made a landmark decision dealing a major set back to the Bush administration over it’s power to jail US Citizens and legal residents without charge, saying that the Bush administration cannot label US 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. So -
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 US 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 — you referred to Guantanamo. What is, I think, extremely alarming is the fact that in Britain, as in Russia and in the United States, are 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 are 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 and very passionate terms too, for the laws that have been past 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 or human rights law, not one, because they’ve been–the system has now totally prevented this, which is why you see Gary 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 are in the legal profession, whether the Center for Constitutional Rights or lawyers 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 is 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.
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 have delivered a number of letters signed by Chechnyans, in Chechnya and Russians. I have delivered letters for other reasons, including the Guantanamo prisoners, going with Moazzam Begg’s father. The only time I have 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 of 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 all 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 court, into the British system, which we very much applauded. And because some of my friends were running a daily paper — Albanian Kosovar friends in Kosovo. And Mr. Blair 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 is going on in Iraq right now, for his support, his relationship with President Bush?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: It is a very difficult and interesting time because there are some very decent people who have been in his government, 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. Clair 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 have —
VANESSA REDGRAVE: So I admire her very much.
AMY GOODMAN: And now two men have been imprisoned, tried and 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, 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 is 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 is needed to bring help to children, to refugees. You have to negotiate with all kinds of people. Some people say this one is bad. Other people say oh, no, that one is good. But for human rights work and humanitarian development, you have to negotiate. And the–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 UN films that you are distributing, through Descent Projects like Wake Up World: A Tribute to UNICEF. We are talking to Vanessa Redgrave, Oscar award wining actor, and Carlo Nero, British filmmaker and director of The Fever that is airing on HBO tonight. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: I am Amy Goodman, as 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 on HBO tonight called The Fever, that stars Vanessa Redgrave, as well as other actors. Vanessa, last night our new Democracy Now! producer, Anjali Kumat and I went to the Booth Theater 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: The 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 is fighting to keep sane, crazy with grief because her husband has died in front of her eyes one evening at the table eating supper, and trying to keep her daughter alive in the hospital, Quintana, in a intensive care unit. 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, and 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 has 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 could be saved if he came back to life. It is the most extraordinary writing, and I am so pleased to do it, because I know from the audiences that come that most of whom of course have all, those who have 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 is a very healing play.
AMY GOODMAN: Joan’s husband was John Gregory Dunne, the writer.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: She lost her husband and daughter within one year.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Yes, just over actually. The daughter died August 26th 2005, Quintana died. And he died December the 30th, 2003.
AMY GOODMAN: David Hare directed.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Yes, it is a wonderful play. He did superbly. Well, Carlo, you were in the audience too, with Amy, last night.
AMY GOODMAN: We both heard the cell phones going on, 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, as it were I feel Joan is also writing for me–I am both in the audience and on the stage. So there is an extraordinary connection for me, and I think the audience — also–members of the audience, all of them 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. [laughing] I presented the ring.
AMY GOODMAN: So tell us about Franco Nero.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: He’s a terrific guy. Direct and in connection. He is a marvelous guy, wonderful actor. One of the wonderful things he does is he raises money continually, month in, month out, to keep an orphanage going for young boys who are either totally orphans or have lost a father or their mother. It is outside Rome.
AMY GOODMAN: He is an Italian director?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: He is an actor.
CARLO NERO: Yes Though he did finally direct his first proper sort of the film. But he is an actor.
AMY GOODMAN: And how long have you known each other?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: Since we did Camelot together, which was 1967. 40 years ago.
AMY GOODMAN: Carlo, how did it feel for your parents to finally marry? Most people go through the divorce of parents, not the marriage.
CARLO NERO: Yes. It was wonderful feeling. I witnessed in childhood a very slow, long process by which they really were reunited. Which I think is a wonderful thing. They have always had a love for each other. And despite the distance and the differences. I think theirs is one of those wonderful stories, symbolic stories, really, of how people can reconcile and allow their love to grow and nurture it 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 Richarson, 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. She was able to come to Croatia, where we were filming, I mean Croatia is an extraordinary place to film. I have to say that the crew, the production, the whole team there, was just phenomenal. There was nothing they couldn’t do for us. 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. Anyway, to come back to Joely, she came to do her filming, and it was extraordinary. We were in the studio, on the sound stage, and she was doing her scenes, and she gave herself completely to this role. It was not a big role, small role, but an important, pivotal role, and I think as a result the film has benefited immensely, as it has through everybody’s contribution. It was wonderful to do that. I think like everybody in the film, these acts — these unselfish and altruistic acts were doing something good that everybody believed in, and I hope it now will be distributed and shown as it is tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: Vanessa, as we go back and forth between politics and 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 have been a long-time activist on this issue, of course first spoke about it when you won the Oscar, many years ago at a time when 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 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.
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. What was going on behind — what I would like to stress out of all of 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. A Rabbi was prepared to be a witness. 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. They said because if you don’t well no job is safe, because that was the principle at stake. That was a definite job, and of course I produced evidence of other jobs. But that–what I have discovered and have known to be a truth all along, is that there is enormous support in every community, whether the Palestinian or Jewish community, or indeed in an Israeli community, because I am honored to know the Avneris, Uri and Rachel Avneri, of Baruch Shalom, Jeff Halper, a number of exceptional people, others who are not well known, who are actors and writers and directors, who are appalled that 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 with so many people working, and of course amongst the Palestinians, I can’t think about whether I lost a job or not. I really can’t. Anyway, we are 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 Israeli and Palestine except insofar as the agencies trying to help —- I mean down there in Gaza, this fighting is taking place while the young 16—, 17- and 18-year-olds are trying to do their exams. Now someone is cooking this up behind the scenes–I don’t know who, but I know its being cooked up–and there is despair and poverty and need–these kids need help to go to exams. I know the people who are there to try to help them and protect them. And I know UNRA — I was there in Gaza two years ago with UNRA.
AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations Relief Agency?
VANESSA REDGRAVE: The United Nations Relief Agency that was set up with the specific task of supporting and protecting the Palestinians in civil life. Again as we saw, if you cut off funds that are the legitimate funds due to a people, then the poverty is so horrendous that it is going to explode.
CARLO NERO: And not just the funds, but the access to natural resources.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: And the access to natural resources, you are so right, and to trade — right. And to trade. I noticed–I think she sounds great, Greta Berlin. I daresay you 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 are going to try and land on the coast of Gaza. And everyone has said, is telling them in the media, well, you will never go to land because the Israelis won’t let you, and they are 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 have 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 Kadjo, the musician. Dissent Projects, the two of you doing this together, mother and son?
CARLO NERO: Yes. It is a company we set up basically with–our mandate is to make documentary films, and feature films, possibly of a humanitarian nature, human rights, economic, social justice nature.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there. We’ll link it 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 today have been Vanessa Redgrave, as well as Carlo Nero. Carlo Nero directed Vanessa Redgrave, stars in The Fever.That does it for us.