Tarantino attacks British actors

Last updated at 09:01 13 May 2004

Quentin Tarantino today blamed the decline of Britain's film industry on British stars decamping to Hollywood as soon as they find fame.

The Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction director said Britain does not have a sustainable film industry because all our successful actors head to America in search of mega-stardom.

Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival, where he is president of the jury, Tarantino said: "There are only three countries in the world with sustainable film industries - America, India and Hong Kong.

"What do these countries have in common? They each have a star system, actors that citizens of that country want to pay and see. At the end of the day people go to see films to see stars.

"As soon as people become stars in Britain they get the hell out of there and go to Hollywood."

His comments led to a public exchange with British actress Tilda Swinton, who is sitting on the Cannes jury.

Swinton strikes back

Swinton has avoided Hollywood and instead won critical acclaim for her performances in low-budget films, including Orlando and the recent Young Adam opposite Ewan McGregor.

She sprung to the defence of the British film industry and said audiences wanted to see a mix of Hollywood blockbusters and quality home-produced films.

But Tarantino harked back to an era when Britain produced popular films which audiences loved.

"No-one ever said the Carry On movies were art but they were very funny," he said.

Catherine Zeta Jones, Jude Law and Kate Beckinsale are among those who have left British movies behind to make it big in Hollywood.

Stars leave Britain in droves

Zeta Jones found fame in TV series The Darling Buds of May but is now one of the world's most bankable actresses after director Steven Spielberg spotted her talents.

She was cast in The Mask of Zorro opposite Antonio Banderas and has gone on to star in films such as Entrapment, Chicago and Intolerable Cruelty.

Law appeared in low-budget Brit flicks like Shopping, The Final Cut and Love, Honour and Obey early in his career. But The Talented Mr Ripley made him Hollywood hot property and Cold Mountain sealed his A-list status.

Beckinsale started out with the title role in a TV adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma and starred in British film Shooting Fish.

Beckinsale and Zeta Jones cracked America

A starring role in blockbuster Pearl Harbor transformed her career. She is currently appearing in the Hollywood movie Van Helsing and married earlier this week in Beverly Hills.

The Cannes Film Festival officially opens tonight and Tarantino said he was delighted to be chairing the jury which decides the winner of the Palme d'Or.

Ten years ago he won the prize with Pulp Fiction and his first film, Reservoir Dogs, was screened at the festival.

"For me Cannes is heaven," he said. "If you love cinema, this place is heaven. To me it's a place where dreams come true. My first dream was to go to Cannes with my first film and I did that with Reservoir Dogs.

"My next dream was to win the Palme d'Or, which I did with Pulp Fiction. And my next dream was to be invited on to the jury and now they have made me president. If there's a level above heaven, then that's where I'm at."

Tarantino's latest film, Kill Bill Vol 2, is showing at the festival but was not eligible for the competition because of his role on the jury.

On the final day of the festival there will be a special back-to-back showing of Vols 1 and 2, the first time they have been screened together outside the Far East.

Tarantino originally meant Kill Bill to be one film but eventually split it into two.

There are 18 films vying for the Palme d'Or including Shrek 2, British biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, a remake of The Ladykillers and Michael Moore's controversial documentary Fahrenheit 911.

Actress Kathleen Turner and French star Emmanuelle Beart are on this year's jury panel.

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