RIO DE JANEIRO – “I hope I’ll be able to give my speech wearing a gas mask,” joked Paul Schrader, the recipient of this year’s Rio Festival Redentor trophy for the body of his work to date, an hour before presenting “The Canyons” at the Rio de Janeiro Festival.
That never came to pass with the Festival as a matter of pre-caution moving the screening of Schrader’s latest film, “The Canyons,” from a city center cinema, where the police had earlier in the day used tear gas to break up a teachers’ demonstration, to the quiet and spectacular lake-side inner-suburb district of Botafogo.
Schrader was in town to accept the Rio de Janeiro’s Redentor trophy for the body of his work to date, which he was presented with by Festival co-director Ilda Santiago.
In fine fettle, at a Copacabana beach-side dinner held in his honor, Schrader recalled a time when he really did have his back to the wall, at the Johannesburg Festival years back which he attended as the screenwriter of Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ.”
“The South African government decided to ban the film. There was a crowd of protestors, shaking their crucifixes at me. So I got up on stage and said: ‘Since you can’t see the film, I’ll tell you what happens.’ Which I did, scene by scene, for an hour.”