Cannes: Jim Jarmusch Pushes Environmental Message of 'The Dead Don't Die'

The Dead Don't Die Premiere-Getty 2-H 2019
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The director downplayed the politics of the film, while Selena Gomez said social media has been "incredibly negative" for young people.

The Dead Don't Die director Jim Jarmusch at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday insisted that the film, in which Steve Buscemi's character wears a "Make America White Again" hat, is not political.

The Cannes Grand Prize winner said at the press conference for the Cannes opening film that reading the morning-after reactions from Tuesday night's world premiere, the political parallels “honestly hadn't quite occurred” to him while making the movie. Instead, he insisted the film is more a reaction to the environmental peril the planet is in.

He addressed the reactions at the morning press event along with stars Bill Murray, Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton and Chloe Sevigny.

“Watching nature decline at unprecedented rates for me is terrifying and concerning, and what concerns me is the apathy and failure to address something that threatens all living species,” he said, and went further to say he was frustrated with the characterization of the film.

“Politics is not of interest to me,” he said, adding that the human impact on the planet is putting future generations in danger. “This is not a political issue, and I don't understand how it can even be considered such. Politics doesn't seem to save anything. Politics is a kind of distraction.”

However, he said the film is meant to be positive and optimistic and that he supports teenagers and young political activists who are drawing attention to these issues.

Gomez said that she felt social media has had an incredibly negative impact on teens and young adults that is hurting not only their self-esteem but also their awareness of the world outside of the screen.

“Social media has really been terrible for my generation," she said. "I understand that it's amazing to use your platform, but it does scare me to see how exposed these young girls and boys are, and they're not really aware of what is going on. It's just very — I don't want to say selfish because that feels rude — I think it's a dangerous thing for sure. I don't think people are getting the right information sometimes.”

Asked if she thought regulation should be implemented for technology giants, Gomez said it's a bit too late to put the genie back in the bottle. “I think it's pretty impossible to make it safe at this point, there's no blocking anything they're exposed to it,” she said, adding that she is grateful for her 150 million social media followers but has learned to set limits on what she posts. “It just scares me that I see all these young girls at meet-and-greets, and they're devastated dealing with bullying and not being able to have their own voice.”

The press conference was not without levity, with Swinton being asked to defend her male co-stars' fashion choices and calling their red carpet style “spectacular,” and Murray joking that Jarmusch brought him on the film through bribes and gifts. Murray also joked that more than vampires or zombies, he finds the film festival and its denizens a bit scary.

“I find Cannes frightening,” he joked. “I believe in life after death but not for everyone, so heads up. Some of you I'll see, and some I might not. Truly, I mean that.”

As far as the middling reviews for the film, Jarmusch added: “Whatever the film is, I don't really know, we did our best.... If you think the film is negative or my personal philosophy is negative, it's not. I'm overjoyed just to be here.”