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Filmmaker Brian De Palma, who created quite a brouhaha earlier this week when he accused the backers of his new Iraq-war movie Redacted of censorship, is now waving the white flag. “I couldn’t get around the legalities. I tried to, I fought a hard case,” he told us last night before a screening of his hot potato — “redactions” and all — at the New York Film Festival. “But it was the difference between letting the film go out or just keeping at this.” (Redacted is slated to be released November 16.) De Palma looked pretty pooped as he explained. Also, he was wearing those blue-and-gray New Balance old-man sneakers, which brought extra poignancy.
Magnolia Pictures’ contention has been that since De Palma didn’t obtain liability releases for the photos shown at the end of his film — which depict dead Iraqis, not American soldiers, as some commentators have claimed — the company is in danger of being sued by the victims’ next of kin. According to De Palma, that’s a bunch of baloney. “Everybody knew I was using real photographs,” he told us. “What happened ultimately is that somebody up in the hierarchy of the company saw the photographs way after we’d shot the film and said, ‘Oh, my God, this is pretty intense.’”
How high up? “All the way up.” Gulp.
But this time around De Palma wasn’t as eager to mention the big boss, Mark Cuban, by name. “The insurance companies control what you can put in a movie,” he said. Sounds like it’s been quite a journey, we offered. He agreed: “I’m more than happy to get off the train.” Sounds like the old blame-it-on-the-Man-and-get-out. But you have to hand it to him — at least he’s got an exit strategy. —Darrell Hartman
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