Matt Damon Says Berlinale Opener ‘Small Things Like These’ Is “Asking The Audience To Care About Cinema”

Cillian Murphy-starring Berlinale opener Small Things Like These “is asking the audience to care about cinema,” Matt Damon, one of the pic’s financiers, has said.

Addressing the movie’s press conference in Berlin today, Damon, who starred in Oppenheimer opposite Murphy, said “there is enough audience in the world that still does [care about cinema]” amidst fraught geopolitics and financial challenges for the sector.

Damon recalled when he was “starting out in the 1990s” and “you would see movies like [Small Things Like These] all the time,” but said today’s landscape is “constantly in flux.”

In Tim Mielants’ Small Things Like These, which is financed by Damon and Ben Affleck’s Artists Equity, Murphy plays a devoted family man who discovers the local convent is in fact a cruel institution that takes in so-called ‘fallen girls and women.’ This revelation forces him to confront some hard truths about the convent, his hometown — and his own life. Eileen Walsh, Michelle Fairley and Emily Watson also star.

“This film does not pander,” said Damon. “It is asking the audience to care about cinema and I believe that there is enough audience in the world that still does.”

Damon said financing the movie “felt like a dream for us.” “For us on our side it was a very easy proposition,” he added. “We were facilitating an environment where [the creatives] could do this work and explore these things, so it was really about getting out their way.”

The presser took place after we dropped this exclusive interview with Murphy and Damon.

Murphy, who worked with director Mielants on Peaky Blinders, said the movie concerns a “collective trauma, particularly for people of a certain age.”

“And I think that can be a really useful balm for that wound,” he added. “The book [that the movie is based on] certainly was. The irony of the book is it is a Christian man trying to do a Christian act in a dysfunctional Christian society. Maybe it’s easier to absorb that in a movie than in an academic or government report.”

Mielants described the pic as a “personal story, one of grief and structuring the pain of grief.”

Murphy is nominated for a BAFTA for Oppenheimer on Sunday but said he was relaxed about the fact that the Berlinale clashes with the UK ceremony.

Earlier, the opening jury press conference was a spicy affair, with members including Lupita Nyong’o and Christian Petzold drawn into multiple — occasionally testy — discussions about their own political stances on events in Ukraine, Gaza and Germany.

The 74th Berlinale is taking place February 15 to 25.


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