By Noah Taylor | Indiewire September 13, 2012 at 4:30PM
Indiewire kicked off its TIFF Talks earlier this week with both the cast of "Imogene" (Kristen Wiig, Darren Criss, and Christopher Fitzgerald) and "Mea Maxima Culpa" director Alex Gibney, video of which is below.
Wiig plays the titular "Imogene," a washed-up playwright who fakes a suicide at the movie's start in an attempt to win her ex-boyfriend. “The character was this weird, messed-up girl, which I like to play” said Wiig at the talk. “I hadn’t read anything like that in a long time... or ever.”
Imogene reconnects with her dysfunctional family, including her gambling-addicted mother (Annette Bening) and her introvert brother (Fitzgerald). Criss is a young lodger/ Backstreet Boy cover artist whom Imogene falls for
“Obviously working with Kristen is huge win for anybody,” said "Glee" star Criss, who was offered the role after Wiig was attached. “It was fun reading the script with Kristen’s cadence in my head, at least what I could surmise from watching SNL all the time and 'Bridesmaids.'”
The actors bonded over their theater backgrounds. Fitzgerald is primarily a stage actor, with "Imogene" being one of his biggest film roles to date. “I’ve found film, from my experience, so much easier than doing theater," he said. "Especially eight shows a week for a year... playing a munchkin... or a leprechaun. I play all of Broadway’s creatures.”
The second talk saw Thompson On Hollywood's Anne Thompson sit down with Alex Gibney to discuss his scathing new documentary and its implications.
Having already taken on Enron, Eliot Spitzer, and torture in the American military among many other controversial topics, prolific documentarian Alex Gibney’s latest film Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God is an indictment of the Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse scandals, concentrating on one particularly disturbing case.
It was producers Jedd and Todd Wider, whom Gibney had worked with before, that first drew his attention to a story on the cover of the New York Times about a Catholic priest in Milwaukee who had sexually abused over 200 deaf children, targeting those whose parents could not understand sign language. “It seemed to me that my contribution could be that I would look at a particular crime, in this case Father Murphy, and maybe see if by following that crime you could follow it up the chain right on up to the top and that’s what the film ultimately ended up doing.”
Of course the top meant the Pope himself. “Ratzinger knows more about clerical sex abuse than any human being on the planet and he had an opportunity to really aggressively pursue it, but he’s a politician and so even though he regards it as an evil he had this kind of odd position where he would only prosecute if it seemed like the political wins were right.”
Raised as a Catholic himself, Gibney felt so passionate about the subject matter that he decided to narrate the film himself while actors Ethan Hawke, Chris Cooper and John Slattery leant their voices to the deaf victims who sign their stories.
At one point during the talk, Gibney drew a comparison between the Church and the recent Penn State scandal. “The Catholic church is not unique in the way in which it seeks to protect itself as an institution and to allow horrible things to take place because the grandeur of what is being accomplished in the other sphere is so important, and that’s really at the heart of this. There’s a key phrase in the film, a phrase that police departments often use called ‘noble cause corruption’ and I think that’s the theme of this. It’s not evil men doing evil things, it’s good and holy men allowing for evil to be done because the view is if you’re holy you can do wrong.”
Watch video from both talks below: