BERLIN — George Clooney said the U.K. should return Greek art treasures in its possession, during a press conference for his film “The Monuments Men” at the Berlin Film Festival Saturday.
Asked by a Greek journalist whether Greece should claim its historic monuments back from Britain, he said: “I think you have a very good case to make about your artifacts. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were returned.
“I think that is a good idea. I think that would be a very fair and very nice thing. Yeah, I think it is the right thing to do.”
The possession by British museums of Greek artifacts — such as the Elgin Marbles, which were taken from the Acropolis in Athens — has long been a bone of contention between the two countries. The question fitted nicely with the theme of Clooney’s film, which follows the attempt by a squad of art experts to return stolen works of art to their rightful owners in post-war Germany.
The press conference had got off to a somber start when festival chief Dieter Kosslick announced that the reason that the press conference had started late was that a journalist had collapsed at the preceding press screening of Clooney’s film. He added that the journalist had been taken to hospital and was okay.
In the press conference, Clooney was also asked why he had expressed his support for the protesters in the Ukraine, through a message he posted on YouTube. He explained that the Klitschko brothers, who are among the leaders of the opposition movement in the Ukraine, were friends of his, dating back to his work on “Ocean’s Eleven,” in which Wladimir Klitschko had a role, but he said it went further than just friendship.
“I like them very much, but I was also aware of (Ukraine politician) Yulia Tymoshenko and the fact that Yulia hasn’t committed a crime, yet she has been placed in jail. And it seems like it gets lost in all the shuffles of news, and doesn’t get talked about, so I just wanted to show some support for that.
“I think the protesters are having a very difficult time, and I know that there are some hooligans on their side who are also making life difficult. So it is going to be a very long struggle, but I find it to be an important one to at least point out that the people are hoping for their own self determination.”