John Savage Calls for Breaking Down Walls at Ischia Fest Opening

John Savage at Ischia - Getty - H 2017

The Ischia Global Film & Music Fest opened with a grand ceremony celebrating working across borders.

The 15th Ischia Global Film & Music Fest kicked off Sunday night on the grand island off the coast of Naples with an outdoor screening of Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled.

The evening’s festivities included a warm welcome from Ischia president Trudie Styler, coming to the island fresh from her daughter’s wedding. Styler praised the festival for bringing people together. She noted the festival even helped her find people who went on to help her Rainforest Fund, which she founded with her husband Sting.

The Deer Hunter and Hair actor John Savage received the festival’s art award. After regaling the audience with a bit of opera, he accepted his prize, praising Europe for carrying the torch of daring cinema.

“We’ve got to get together,” he told the audience. “We can’t afford to build more walls.” The gathered crowd cheered his speech which called for more open partnerships between Hollywood and European cinema, while also criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Earlier in the day, Savage condemned current American policies that cut spending on arts and education but prioritize military spending.

He told the press that America today “doesn’t even like to think about climate change. My generation would have liked to have seen it fixed,” he said.

“I think that Europe, with its values, should once again become the world leader,” he said, remarking that the best stories come from the old continent.

Honorary Chairman Mark Canton announced that it was Dennis Hopper who first brought him to Ischia. “Man, just come with me right now,” Canton said, quoting the late actor. “We’re going somewhere special.”

Co-chair Avi Lerner also thanked the festival for bringing him together with people he later went on to work with, including Lee Daniels (The Paperboy) and Gerard Butler (Playing for Keeps).

And designer John Paul Gaultier, praised as the first “cross-dressing” fashion designer to define rock star style, was honored with the fest’s excellence award.

“In reality, if I do fashion,” said Gaultier when accepting the award, “it is because of film.”

Ischia Global Film & Music Fest continues through July 16 with other events honoring Mira Sorvino, Lily Collins, Roman Polanski, Colin Trevorrow, Art Linson and Patrick Wachsberger.