Hollywood star acting out with bizarre behaviour at Berlin Film Festival

Shia LeBeouf walks out of news conference and wears paper bag over his head at red carpet, generating buzz for film by equally eccentric Lars von Trier

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 9:34am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 February, 2014, 4:03pm

Actor Shia LaBeouf hit the Berlin Film Festival in memorable style on Sunday, first walking out of a press conference for the film Nymphomaniac Volume I and then wearing a paper bag over his head at the red carpet premiere.

The actor posed for photographers in a stylish tuxedo – and a paper bag with eyeholes and the words “I am not famous anymore” written across it. LaBeouf has frequently used the statement on his Twitter page, and he was identifiable by a tattoo on his hand.

The unconventional attire came shortly after the star walked out of a press conference with co-stars Uma Thurman and Christian Slater to promote Lars von Trier’s film, the first instalment of a two-part drama about a woman’s sexual life from girlhood to age 50.

A reporter’s question as to whether the actors were worried about the film’s sex scenes elicited the response: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.” He then walked out.

LaBeouf’s line was borrowed from French soccer player Eric Cantona, who baffled reporters with it in the mid-1990s following his suspension for a flying kick on a heckler.

The actor has come under fire for borrowing dialogue and story line for his short film, Howard Cantour.com which closely resembled a 2007 graphic novel by Daniel Clowes.

“In my excitement and naiveti [sic] as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation,” LaBeouf said on Twitter in December in response to Clowes’ publisher’s claim that he stole dialogue verbatim.

LaBoeuf wasn’t the only one making a statement. Von Trier turned up to a photo call sporting a T-shirt with the logo of the Cannes Film Festival and the words “Persona non grata, official selection”.

In 2011, von Trier was ejected from the Cannes event after a bizarre, rambling news conference in which he expressed sympathy with Adolf Hitler. He said afterwards he had been joking, later issuing an apology and then saying he would refrain from future public statements.

The director skipped Sunday’s news conference to talk about the film. The version at the festival increases to nearly 2.5 hours the first instalment.

At the press conference, Thurman said she enjoyed letting off the “fury of woman scorned” in a monologue von Trier wrote for her in the movie. “It was a real great challenge to memorise seven pages of Lars’ female diatribe of rage,” she told reporters.

“Lars kept saying I was overacting, but that’s nothing new,” Thurman added.

Von Trier’s steamy film was paired with the German-made Kreuzweg (Stations of the Cross), about a Catholic family bringing up their daughter in a strict religious environment, making for an odd juxtaposition but one that the film’s director, Dietrich Bruggemann, seemed to relish.

“Our religion is cinema and this is the cathedral and that’s what you do on Sunday. First you go to church service and then you have some fun," Bruggemann said at a post-screening press conference.

"Fun" would certainly not be a word for Bruggemann’s harrowing film which shows a charming, pretty and bright young girl’s descent into self-loathing, self-doubt and eventually anorexia in a deeply religious German Roman Catholic family.

Other notable films include Filipino film Unfriend, by Joselito Altarejos, which takes viewers on a nightmarish journey with a man who is jilted by his ex-lover and turns to the screens of his mobile phone, iPad and computer in a desperate attempt to prolong his connection to his 17-year-old ex-boyfriend.

Also on the list was ’71, the debut feature film from Paris-born Yann Demange about a young English recruit who becomes trapped behind enemy lines in a hostile Catholic area during the three decades of sectarian bloodshed that rocked Northern Ireland called the "Troubles".

Mainland Chinese director Zhao Dayong is also screening his film Shadow Days, about a man's return to his birthplace, hoping to start anew and raise a family in peace, before things go wrong.

With additional reporting from Reuters