'Hunger Games' Star Elizabeth Banks Pans 'Surrender Dorothy', Director Fires Back

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"The Hunger Games'" Elizabeth Banks (UTA, Untitled, Ziffren Brittenham) will return to NBC's "30 Rock," playing Alec Baldwin's journalist wife, who was detained in North Korea and forced to marry the nation's dictator.

Director Kevin DiNovis complains about the actress' unflattering recollection of her first film.

An interview Elizabeth Banks gave to Slate.com is not sitting well with the director and co-star of the low-budget movie that she named as her biggest career misstep.

In an April 19 interview with the online magazine, Banks -- now starring as Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games -- singles out her role in 1998's Surrender Dorothy, a dark comedy she filmed while in college, as a disappointing introduction to showbiz.

"Really early on, I did this one film -- I think it's called Surrender Dorothy, I'm not even sure anymore -- and I just remember I had met the guy who was going to be the lead in the movie and then, right before we started shooting, that guy got a 'real job' [makes air quotes], and went to do some real job," Banks recalled. "And the writer/director played the lead role as well because there was no one else to do it! ... And I thought, 'I'd better go to drama school and learn how to never have this job again.'"

Banks' words stung Surrender Dorothy's writer-director -- and substitute lead actor -- Kevin DiNovis, who issued a statement Wednesday in defense.

"I'm shocked and deeply hurt by Ms. Banks' comments, and confused as to how she could consider her first break -- in Hollywood or anywhere -- as a career mistake."

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As for her drama-school quip, DiNovis responded: "That's what I find most offensive. What exactly does she mean by 'this type of job'? Because there she seems to insult not just my work, but rather the entire American independent film movement. Making movie outside the traditional studio system is an immense struggle. To have that struggle so blithely denigrated by a collaborator -- especially one in Ms. Banks position -- feels a bit like she's firing cannons at a butterfly."

"OK, Surrender Dorothy may not be a grand-slam crowd-pleaser like The Hunger Games," he added. "But it's managed to earn a solid reputation as a contemporary cult film. I can think of a lot less auspicious films for Ms. Banks to have made her debut in. A few of them even turn up on her own resume."

A rep for Banks did not respond to a request for comment.

Surrender Dorothy tells the story of a heroin junkie who becomes enslaved by a man who forces him to dress as a woman. It won a grand jury prize at the Slamdance Film Festival, the Chicago Underground and the New York Underground film festivals; the film was also praised by Roger Ebert, who picked it to open his Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign, Ill.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated, on second reference, that Surrender Dorothy was filmed in 2005.