Film festival season is in full swing with both the Venice and Toronto festivals happening this week. However, the red carpets are sparse, and there’s a noticeable lack of actors in attendance because of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. While many artists couldn’t make their way to the events to represent their movies because of this, some actors have exemptions through interim agreements, which means they can promote their movies. This includes Oscar-winner Jessica Chastain. While she is in Italy to talk about and premiere her film, she opened up about how it’s been uncomfortable to do so.
Walking into the press conference for her new movie Memory, which was confirmed to have an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA on Thursday, Jessica Chastain wore a T-shirt that said “SAG-AFTRA on strike.” She clearly showed her support for her fellow actors, and explained during the interview, via Deadline, that she felt “nervous” to be in Italy promoting her work. The Eyes of Tammy Faye star said:
Yes, I was incredibly nervous to be here today, and actually there are some people on my team who advised me against it.
While going to the festival and talking about her film made her a bit “nervous” and may be uncomfortable, Chastain reiterated the goals of the interim agreements. Quite a few smaller studios, like Neon and A24, have agreed to meet SAG-AFTRA’s demands, which means they can proceed with production and promotion. Memory received one of these exemptions, and that’s why the actress and her co-star Peter Sarsgaard are able to be in Venice without going against the strike. The Molly’s Game star continued to speak about the importance of these agreements and getting out there to market movies under them:
I am here because SAG-AFTRA has been explicitly clear that the way to support the strike is to post on social media, walk the picket lines and to work and support interim agreement projects. It’s what our national board, our negotiating committee and elected leadership has asked us to do. When indie producers sign these agreements they are letting the world know, they are letting the AMPTP know that actors deserve fair compensation, they have protections that should be implemented and there should be sharing of streaming revenue. So I hope being here today encourages other producers, encourages actors to show up… Hopefully we’ll see an end to the strike soon and hopefully the AMPTP will go back to the table.
Along with Chastain and Memory, the cast of A24’s Priscilla was also able to go to Venice to represent Sofia Coppola’s movie because they have an interim agreement. Meanwhile, Zendaya’s film Challengers was delayed, pushed back to the 2024 movie schedule and pulled from the festival because of the strike and not having an exemption.
Like Jessica Chastain, Adam Driver also used the press conference in Venice for his film Ferrari to talk about the strikes. He called out streamers for refusing to meet demands, per Variety. He also commented on how the interim agreement helps show “that a smaller distribution company like Neon or STX International can meet the dream demands of what SAG is asking for.”
Following Memory’s premiere in Venice, the drama about a surprise encounter after a high school reunion will make its way to the Toronto International Film Festival where it will have its North American premiere on September 12. It’s unclear where it will fall on the 2023 movie schedule following its festival run. However, as more information about its wide release comes out and more updates about the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes continue to break, we’ll keep you posted.