- Title: USA: "Blood Diamond" film premiere in Los Angeles, California
- Date: 7th December 2006
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) SORIOUS SAMURA, AWARD-WINNING SIERRA LEONEAN JOURNALIST WHO SELF FUNDED "CRY FREETOWN" A DOCUMENTARY ON THE MOST BRUTAL PERIOD OF THE CIVIL WAR IN SIERRA LEONE IN 1999 USED FOR RESEARCH IN MAKING "BLOOD DIAMOND", SAYING: "I was really impressed because he (Leonardo DiCaprio) paid attention to the details by the time we finished he really cared about my country, my people and I can tell you that he is trying to do something as well. I used to have my own opinions about celebrities but I think he has won my respect."
- Embargoed: 22nd December 2006 12:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Topics: People
- Reuters ID: LVACCQW90JNIVSKQ2D2KV7GD4CJR
- Story Text: Leonardo DiCaprio and the all- star cast of "Blood Diamond" premiered the film and its political message in Los Angeles, California on Wednesday (December 6).
"First off playing a character like this that was so foreign to me and something that I wanted to sink my teeth into to play you know a South African mercenary. A modern post- Apartheid South African ex- mercenary in the diamond market but to play somebody that was sort of soul searching that was completely scarred from this country and you know ultimately that was trying to find any type of connection that he had with the people there was an amazing character to play. On top of it working with Ed, Djimon, and Jennifer but most importantly to do a film like this that is not only entertaining but does have a really powerful social message is not something that comes around very often in the studio system," DiCaprio told Reuters.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the film playing a Zimbabwean smuggler and ex-mercenary Daniel Archer. Dijmon Hounsou plays fisherman Solomon Vandy, who has been ripped from his home by armed rebels and forced to work in the diamond fields. Jennifer Connelly plays American journalist Maddy Bowen, who is investigating the widespread violence and corruption that pervade the diamond industry.
"Hopefully if people see the film they will be inspired to shop, if they are going to chose to purchase diamonds, then to buy diamonds that are conflict free and they can go to their retailer and ask them to give them information on the source of their diamonds and written verifiable warranty that they are conflict free," said Connelly in Tiffany pearl earrings and Alexander McQueen dress and shoes. The film has the diamond industry concerned that moviegoers may walk out of cinemas with the idea that all diamonds are tainted.
De Beers, which produces more than 40% of the world's diamonds, argue that they have largely fixed the problem of conflict, or "blood," diamonds--gems mined illegally by warlords and sold to buy weapons and pay soldiers.
Human-rights campaigners however welcome Hollywood's focus on the issue and say it has helped tighten industry oversight even before the film's release.
In the run-up to the holiday period - peak season for diamond sales and blockbuster movies - the public spat makes an interesting study of how a big studio movie can threaten a 60 billion U.S. dollar-a-year global retail industry, one that has previously thrived on its association with all things Hollywood, and how that business can fight back.
"We are trying to create a world were people can go in and buy diamonds and know that those diamonds don't have blood on them. The only way to do that is for the consumer each time they go into a store to ask these hard questions and insist on good answers and also to go to their government and say we want oversight so that we dont have to worry about this anymore. The film is not anti- diamond its anti- diamonds that kill people," said Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International at the premiere.
After watching the plight of residents of poverty-hit Mozambique for six months, actor Leonardo DiCaprio admits that he had returned home to Hollywood after filming his new film 'Blood Diamond' with a new perspective on life.
DiCaprio is handing over money to support an orphan girl he met while filming new movie in South Africa. The 32- year old actor was so touched by the youngster, who is being raised in an orphanage, he decided to pledge funds not just towards her upbringing, but to the orphanage itself.
"Well the specific girl I am going to keep personal. What is wonderful to see there is that you know you do a film in a place like Mozambique that has been you know ravaged by poverty, and AIDS and you see these orphan children. You see the direct contributions from people around the world and its tangible for them and that like you know this orphanage like thousands of kids are getting an entirely new opportunity on life and its amazing to watch because you have definite disconnect by just sending the check at home but to actually witness it personally its a beautiful thing. We are going to continue to do as much as we can there," DiCaprio said.
Hounsou has co-star DiCaprio to thank for saving his life after Leonardo stood between his "Blood Diamond" co-star and a killer intent on shooting the African. Djimon remains puzzled as to why the gunman targeted him while he was filming the new action film in Mozambique, but he's sure he'd be wounded or dead if it wasn't for Leo's heroics.
"We were just dining somewhere (while shooting the film in South Africa) and apparently there was a gentleman who was threatening to, do sort of like I wouldn't even repeat some of what happened because it might turn out to be you know bigger issue then it is, then again someone was threatening to sort of like you know shoot me and Leo, and his body guards, and his assistants stood up for me", Hounsou told Reuters on the arrival line.
The United Nation's World Food Program (WFP) has launched a new campaign to combat hunger with members of the cast from the film "Blood Diamond". The film includes scenes depicting realistic aid operations as undertaken by WFP in the '90s while feeding thousands of war victims who fled within Sierra Leone and to neighbouring countries. At the time, WFP aid workers witnessed acute humanitarian needs and untold levels of violence and cruelty , similar to those depicted in the movie.
"The UNHCR was really important to us. They let us use some of their equipment and their name when we did it (the film) and we have done some PSA for them. Listen anytime we can bring some attention to something as good as they do I am happy to do it," said the films director Edward Zwick about the United Nations Commission On Human Rights. Leonardo DiCaprio has seemed a reluctant movie star ever since he broke out in the 1997 blockbuster 'Titanic.'
But after 2006, with 'The Departed' and 'Blood Diamond,' two awards-season movies released back to back, DiCaprio will have to work harder than ever to avoid the spotlight.
"I have never met him but I love his work. I see everything he does. I think he is incredible," Veteran actress Jane Fonda said about DiCaprio.
DiCaprio is slated next to portray Theodore Roosevelt for Scorsese, or take on a thriller like Robert Ludlum's 'The Chancellor Manuscript.'
"Blood Diamond" is set to open in the United States Friday (December 8).
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