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Wendy R. Williams Talks to John Turturro
Avignon/New York Film Festival’s Gala at Daniel
November 12, 2006

Written and Photographed by Wendy R. Williams


John Turturro was the featured artist/director/writer of the 2006 Avignon/New York Film Festival. And this honor comes with some definite perks. Mr. Turturro was honored with a gala dinner at the New York’s beautiful Daniel Restaurant at 60 East 65th St ( And at the dinner, Turturro was given the 1st Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cinema Award; he will receive a selection of Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines each year for the next ten years.

Jerome Henry Rudes

Before the dinner began Mr Turturro, Festival Founder/Director Jerome Henry Rudes and Gala Chairwoman Lucia Kaiser met with the press for a quick question, answer and photo session.

Filmmaker Anita Ondine and
Gala Chairwoman/Filmmaker Lucia Kaiser

Question for Mr. Turturro about what he is working on presently:

John Turturro: I am directing “A Spanish Play” at the Classic Stage Company (Yasmina Reza's play about truth and illusion in the rehearsal of a play starring Zoe Caldwell, Katherine Borowitz, Linda Emond, Denis O'Hare and Larry Pine). I trained first as a stage actor. I studied drama at State University of New York College, New Paltz, and the Yale School of Drama for my MFA. I also studied with Robert Modica in New York City. I used to do a play a year.

I am also acting in a mni series called The Bronx is Burning, where I play Billy Martin, the coach who took the Yankees to win the 1977 World Series. It is a mini series set in the summer of 1977 with the Son of Sam, the black out, the riots, Percy Sutton, Bella Abzug, Studio 54... It was the time just before the first case of AIDS; it was a great time. Guys dressed like girls in tight spandex pants. You put them on your butt, you looked like girl. There was a lot of bad hair and there was a culture clash. ESPN is producing it.

Question about directing films.

John Turturro: I have learned a lot about directing by being in films. Sometimes you are in a film and you get no direction and you have to direct yourself. And I have directed myself twice in movies for which I have been the director.

Question about the type of films he likes to do:

John Turturro: It is great when you get to do an interesting role and get paid to do it. ....[For instance] I like to work on Monk because Tony Shalhoub is my friend.

New York Cool: The closing night film of the Festival was Romance and Cigarettes, a musical written and directed by John Turturro. Romance has the most amazing cast: James Gandolfini; Susan Sarandon; Kate Winslet; Steve Buscemi; Bobby Cannavale; Mandy Moore; Mary-Louise Parker; Aida Turturro; Christopher Walken; Barbara Sukowa; Elaine Stritch; Eddie Izzard; and Amy Sedaris. Romance and Cigarettes will be coming out next year.

Here is the IMDB summary of the film: “Romance and Cigarettes is a down-and-dirty musical love story set in the world of the working class. Nick (James Gandolfini) is an ironworker who builds and repairs bridges. He's married to Kitty (Susan Sarandon), a dressmaker, a strong and gentle woman with whom he has three daughters. He is carrying on a torrid affair with a redheaded woman named Tula (Kate Winslet). Nick is basically a good, hardworking man driven forward by will and blinded by his urges. Like Oedipus at Colonus, he is sent into exile and searches to find his way back through the damage he has done. In an imaginative, humorous, and touching way, Romance and Cigarettes explores the cost and value of a relationship through life and death. When the characters can no longer express themselves with language, they break into song, lip-synching the tunes lodged in their subconscious. It is their way to escape the harsh reality of their world - to dream, to remember, and to connect to another human being.”

Question for Mr. Turturro about working with his cousin Aida.

John Turturro: I have worked with Aida a lot and really like working with her. I have directed her in several projects.

The last question for Mr. Turturro: Does James Gandolfini like to sing?

John Turturro: James Gandolfini actually loves to sing.

Sam Garrick and Veronique Perret at Daniel


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