Jessica Chastain made an impassioned appeal to U.S. actors, urging them to promote indie movies on Friday at the Venice Film Festival press conference for Michel Franco’s drama “Memory.”
“I was very nervous about coming,” said Chastain, who was wearing a black “SAG-AFTRA on Strike” T-Shirt, revealing that “there were actually some people on my team who advised me against it.”
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Chastain then noted that actors are “often made to keep quiet in order to protect future working opportunities, and we are often told and reminded how grateful we should be. And that is the environment that I think has allowed work to be abused, to go unchecked for many decades. And is also the environment that has saddled members of our union with unfair contracts.”
Since “Memory” obtained an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA, Chastain and co-star Peter Sarsgaard were present at the press conference.
“I am here because SAG-AFTRA has been explicitly clear that the way to support the strike is to post on social media, walk the picket line and to work and support interim agreement projects,” she said. “It’s what out national board, negotiating committee and our elected leadership has asked us to do.”
Chastain continued, “The independent producers, like the ones here, are letting the AMPTP know that actors deserve fair compensation, that AI protection should be implemented, and there should be sharing of streaming revenues. I hope my being here today encourages other independent producers, and encourages actors to show up [at festivals] and support our union members. Hopefully we will see an end to the strike soon and hopefully AMPTP will go back to the table.”
Directed and written by Franco, “Memory” centers around Sylvia (Chastain), a “social worker who leads a simple and structured life,” according to the film’s synopsis. “This is blown open when Saul (Sarsgaard) follows her home from their high school reunion. Their surprise encounter will profoundly impact both of them as they open the door to the past.”
In an interview with Variety, Franco said of casting Chastain in the film: “Jessica is possibly the best actress in the states right now, it’s not an exaggeration to say she’s the best actress in the world.”
Mexican auteur Franco’s last two films, “New Order” (2020) and “Sundown” (2021), both premiered at Venice. Art thriller “New Order” was awarded the festival’s grand jury prize. Chastain, who won best actress at the Oscars last year for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” last had a film premiere at Venice in 2011 with “Texas Killing Fields.”
“Memory” premieres at Venice Film Festival on Friday night.
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