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<nettime> battle of Seattle STARRING Charlize Theron
dr.woooo on Mon, 11 Sep 2006 14:01:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> battle of Seattle STARRING Charlize Theron

Charlize now faces her own battle of Seattle
The Oscar winner is making a film about the 1999 globalisation protest. But
activists are wary of Hollywood dramatising the event

Rob Sharp, arts and media correspondent
Sunday September 3, 2006
The Observer

Charlize Theron, one of Hollywood's most versatile actresses, made her name
playing provocative roles such as a serial killer in Monster and a sexually
harassed mineworker in North Country. Now she is poised for a part in her most
controversial film yet: a powerful drama about the anti-globalisation riots
that engulfed Seattle in 1999. News of the movie has bitterly divided activists
who were there at the time.
Theron, 31, has teamed up with her on-off boyfriend, the Irish actor Stuart
Townsend, to play a 'principal role' in his directorial debut, Battle in
Seattle. The documentary-style film will focus on a dozen characters swept up
in the protests, which brought the World Trade Organisation's meeting to a

About 80,000 activists from across the globe converged on the North American
city to expose what they claimed was the chasm between those who wanted to
harness globalisation and those who intended to stop it. Hundreds were arrested
after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on crowds as the demonstration
spiralled out of control. Townsend, 33, told The Observer: 'The story
interested me because the WTO considers a lot of issues that were diffused
somewhat by 9/11.'

The actor said he hoped the film, for which he also wrote the script, would
explore 'the meaning and limits of democracy', as well as the 'power of the
individual' in the face of powerful governments and global corporations.

Details of the storyline remain sketchy. But what is known is that it is likely
to feature well-known chapters in the events, such as the arrival of President
Bill Clinton at the conference. Theron is expected to play Lou, a pregnant
bystander who loses her child in the melee of protests and regards events with
some objectivity. Susan Sarandon is set to play a newscaster who sympathises
with the demonstrators and turns on her editor after he over-sensationalises
what she reports.

Those who were in Seattle at the time - environmentalists, religious groups and
others opposed to the WTO's attempts to liberalise trade - are divided over the
prospect of Hollywood stars getting their teeth into the tale. Ian Wilmore,
formerly an activist with Friends of the Earth, was ejected from the Seattle
conference centre by US secret service agents. This was after he co-ordinated a
publicity stunt in which a woman dressed as a genetically modified strawberry
confronted Michael Moore, the New Zealander who was then head of the WTO.

Wilmore said: 'I do wonder whether a Hollywood movie with Charlize Theron is
going to capture the politics of the day. We can have pictures of police firing
on rioting, but all the same these things are hard to summarise. There's no one
objective. Lots of people were presenting objectives, and that leads to a messy

However Claire Melamed, who was also present and heads Christian Aid's trade
policy unit, said Battle in Seattle was an opportunity to raise awareness. She
said that the film did not necessarily have to be an intricate exposition of
all points of view, which she said ranged from the 'dreadlocked peace
campaigner' to the 'earnest-looking NGO-types'. Stanley Johnson, a former
politician and father of Conservative MP Boris, attended the protests dressed
as a loggerhead turtle, campaigning against 'the environmental concerns of
poorer countries being shoved aside by richer nations'. He said: 'Like a
turtle, you've got to got to stick your neck out to go forward. I think they
should get English actors on board.'

Townsend said that he had researched the topic thoroughly and was not going to
portray stereotypes. He hoped to address the issues raised sensibly. He said:
'There's a lot of grey areas. It's not like the protesters are the heroes and
the police are the villains. It's about the characters and how they are changed
by the event. My intention is to inspire, anger and educate people.'

The film's producer, Kirk Shaw, said that Theron's political conscience had
drawn her to the project. He said: 'I think there's a whole consciousness and
concern there about the future of the world.' He said he and Townsend were now
targeting 'politically aware' actors to fill the remaining parts. Barry
Ackroyd, the cinematographer on Paul Greengrass's United 93, which was released
in the UK earlier this year, and Chris Evans, star of 2005's The Fantastic
Four, are also thought to be signed up to work on the film.

The casting of Theron marks a warming of relations with her partner. The two
reportedly have a turbulent relationship. They began dating after meeting on
the set of the 2002 thriller Trapped and share a five-bedroom ?2.5m mansion in
the Hollywood hills with their two rescue dogs.

The rumour mill went into overdrive earlier this year when Townsend failed to
accompany her to a series of high profile events, including the premiere of her
film, Aeon Flux, the Oscars and the Baftas. It later emerged he was on location
in Vancouver, Canada, where he was working on the comedy romance, Chaos Theory,
with Emily Mortimer and Ryan Reynolds. Earlier this month British tabloids
reported that Townsend publicly castigated Theron for turning up 45 minutes
late to an important dinner engagement.

But it appears any differences have been pushed aside for the film, at least as
many years in the making as their affair.

* - / \ | ^ ^^^^

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