A day or so ago Welcome to New York director Abel Ferrara pledged to call me around noon today so we could discuss the mild hoo-hah about the unrated vs. R-rated versions of his film, which originally screened at last May’s Cannes Film festival. (IFC Sundance Selects will make the R-rated version available for public consumption starting on March blank.) For whatever cavalier reason Ferrara didn’t call me today (thanks!), but Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn has spoken to both Ferrara as well as Wild Bunch honcho Vincent Maraval, and has combined their quotes in a piece posted a few hours ago.
Excerpt #1: “Maraval said when he approached Ferrara about delivering an R-rated cut of Welcome to New York, “his response was somewhere between ‘fuck them’ and ‘mmmrrrmmr.” After a shorter cut that mainly slimmed down the orgy scene was prepared, Ferrara refused [to sign off]. ‘The R-rated version has existed for eight months,” Maraval says. “[It] has been released all over the world by distributors to whom we gave the choice between two versions, and all unanimously preferred the shorter version not only for commercial reasons but because they found it much better.”
Excerpt #2: “I have had contractual final cut for 30 years and wouldn’t make a film without it,” Ferara tells Kohn. “Wild Bunch and IFC have produced and distributed many of the films I have made during this period and it has never been an issue. That is the reason I chose to be in business with them.” He claimed that he had no issue with the idea of a censored version made with his approval. “Making certain cuts for direct home broadcast showings is something I am in agreement with and have no problem with,” he said, “but not when that is used to change the political or moral content of my work. Censoring my work in theaters or Maraval arbitrarily and unlawfully changing my work is legally and morally unacceptable.”
Excerpt #3: “Maraval shrugged off Ferrara’s dramatic complaints. ‘He is just using the media to make his own legend of the doomed artist against the system like he always has,’ he said. ‘The thing is that Abel became a pathetic character who lost his mind in his drug years and needs to make noise and provocation to exist. We spent the last 10 years and five movies together to help him but he is his own enemy. His talent is intact but he takes pleasure in destroying his own work.”
Excerpt #4: “Talk to others involved in the process of attempting to release Ferrara’s movies over the past decade, and they tend to sound the same basic notes,” Kohn writes. “The guy makes terrifically liberating movies but instinctively bites the hand that feeds him.”