Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Monday, 1 September 2008 16:24 UK

Landis's life as festival juror

John Landis
John Landis is known for films such as An American Werewolf in London

John Landis is the director of such hit movies as The Blues Brothers, National Lampoon's Animal House and An American Werewolf in London.

He is one of seven filmmakers serving on the international jury at this year's Venice Film Festival, which this year is headed by German director Wim Wenders.

At the Kineo Italian Movie Awards at the Hotel Des Bains on Sunday, he shared his impressions of the festival and his jury duties so far with the BBC News website.


We were told the other day that Wim Wenders, as chair of the jury, sets the rules. I was delighted at myself: I said, 'We are at Wim's whim!'

I got six of the blankest stares I've ever seen.

Wim looked at me and said, 'Vim's vim? Vat is zat?'

What's really strange is that in competition there are films by some very good friends of mine. Pupi Avati, Jonathan Demme, Barbet Schroeder - I'm like, 'Yikes! Should I excuse myself?'


Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
Landis ate sushi after seeing Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

I was last a juror in Venice in 1989 and the movies were terrible.

So far this year the films have all been interesting. Tonight, we saw a Japanese anime about a fish (Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). And then we had sushi. We really did! I was thinking, 'this is ironic'.

Earlier we saw a movie in which a daughter murders her friend. The night before we saw a film in which a father murders his children. And the night before that we saw a movie in which a daughter murders her mother and her lover.

So we've been seeing a lot of patricide, matricide and fratricide - a lot of cide going on.


What I like about the festival is we are seeing the films in a big theatre with an audience.

Last time I was here we saw the films in a small screening room - everyone was smoking and it was disgusting. I'm happier to see things the other way.


The only thing about the festival I don't like is I've been in Venice exactly twice. I had a very nice lunch in someone's palazzo and I've been in an ambulance boat. (John fell down some stairs at the opening night party and required hospital treatment.)

The guy who gave me my stitches here said last year at the same time Mario Monicelli fell and got the same stitches. I thought, it's a great tradition!

Monicelli is an Italian director in his 90s who made Big Deal on Madonna Street, one of my favourite films of all time. So I'm taking it as a good omen.


Did you know this is where Visconti shot Death in Venice? The same mosquitoes were here then.

John Landis was speaking to BBC News entertainment reporter Neil Smith.

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