I’ll always love Steven Soderbergh‘s Che. I’ll be seeing it again at the Toronto Film Festival, which starts eight days hence. I’ll be re-reviewing it when it opens theatrically. I’ll buy the DVD some day. But the people behind the 100% non-existent press reach-out for Che have an odd Toronto attitude. By any basic rulebook, producers Laura Bickford and Benicio del Toro and French financier/sales agent Wild Bunch should be pushing their movie in Toronto, and they’re really not doing that. Certainly not as we speak.
Benicio del Toro in Steven Soderbergh’s Che
Right now, every moderately-funded film going to Toronto has hired a p.r. outfit and is doing what it can right now to stir press interest and get some festival traction…except Che. It’s beyond bizarre. It’s like they have some kind of death wish.
Soderbergh’s fine, historic and domestically un-sold film is showing in Toronto at the end of next week and nobody, it seems, is repping it p.r.-wise, nobody can tell me anything about how to set up chats or even photo ops with del Toro or Soderbergh in Toronto, and nobody — not Benicio’s publicist Robin Baum, not the folks at 42 West, not the Toronto Film Festival press office — seems to know who’s minding the store or what the plan might be.
Every year dozens of mediocre movies go to Toronto with p.r. companies fully hired, interviews being scheduled, parties scheduled and so on. And yet Che, a brilliant, ahead-of-the-curve, thinking-person’s epic, is doing nothing along these lines.
I really love Che. I think it’s rich, wonderfully believable, profound. I’ve written about Peter Buchman‘s scripts early on, about the Cannes showings, etc. Trying to do what I can to spread the word because I believe and I care and I want to see it get at least a decent reception when it opens in whatever form or format. And yet Bickford and Wild Bunch and del Toro have shown all the approachability and reaching-out that one might expect from Columbian drug dealers looking to hide news of their latest shipment.
What’s going on, for God’s sake? 42 West may finally be signed, apparently, and a Canadian publicist may have been approached or hired for Canadian press but who waits until only a few days before the start of the Toronto Film Festival to hire a publicist?
It’s as if the Che team got together a few weeks ago and said, “Okay, what can we do to make it seem as if we have a serious leave-us-alone attitude problem? No p.r. reps hired — check. No reaching out to press — check. No scheduled one-on-ones, photos ops or round-tables — check. No parties — check. No communication to press through intermediaries of any kind — check.”
The Che gang pulled the same thing before Cannes — no p.r., no reach-outs, leave us alone, etc. Who operates like this? Who makes a near-great movie, submits it to a major festival and does everything they can to create a muted reception?
I hope Che wins more film-critic fans during the Toronto Film Festival. I hope it opens commercially some day. Or if not theatrically, I hope at least it will get shown on HBO. I’ll be seeing it a second time in Toronto because I want to re-immerse. But I’ve pretty much given up as far as trying to help. If the Che forces want to say “well, we were just about to make a Toronto move but Jeffrey Wells flew off the handle,” fine. Because I haven’t flown off the handle. I’ve called, e-mailed, reached out and waited for a reply with the patience of Job for many, many weeks.
I’ve had it. I quit. Life is short and I don’t care any more.