Amanda Knox slams 'Stillwater' movie in powerful essay

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CNBC 29 July, 2021 - 10:52pm 58 views

Is Stillwater movie based on a true story?

The premise, Stillwater's director and co-screenwriter Tom McCarthy tells Vanity Fair, was directly inspired by the Amanda Knox saga that erupted in Italy after Knox's roommate was killed in Perugia in 2007. Knox, an American studying in Italy, was arrested as a suspect and imprisoned for four years. Vanity FairStillwater: How Much of Matt Damon’s New Movie Was Inspired by Amanda Knox?

Where was Stillwater filmed?

Made in Oklahoma The latest movie from Academy Award-winning writer-director Tom McCarthy (the fact-based journalism drama "Spotlight"), "Stillwater" filmed in 2019 in Marseille as well as in and across Oklahoma City, Stillwater, Arcadia and Coyle. Oklahoman.comDiving into 'Stillwater': Matt Damon sets out to play 'a real Oklahoman' in new movie

Amanda Knox is speaking out against the new Matt Damon film "Stillwater."

The journalist, who was wrongfully convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher and later acquitted of the crime, took to Twitter on Thursday to lambast the film's director Tom McCarthy as well as the media for linking her name to the project.

"Does my name belong to me? My face? What about my life? My story? Why does my name refer to events I had no hand in? I return to these questions because others continue to profit off my name, face, & story without my consent," she wrote in the first of a series of tweets.

Knox's Twitter thread, which is also posted as an essay on Medium, went on to address sexism, the erasure of victims and her treatment in the press and in popular culture over the last 14 years.

Since debuting at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, "Stillwater" has received mixed reviews from critics and stirred up debate about how much it may have been inspired by Knox's own experience.

In interviews, McCarthy has maintained that the story is completely fictionalized and told Cleveland.com "there's no similarity in our two stories beyond an American student in jail."

In McCarthy's film Damon plays Bill Baker, an oil rig worker from Oklahoma who travels to Marseille, France after his estranged daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) is imprisoned for a murder she didn't commit. Eager to prove his daughter's innocence, Bill takes matters into his own hands, but comes up against language barriers and a complicated legal system.

The director told Vanity Fair that after hearing about Knox, he couldn't help but imagine what it would feel like to be in her shoes. He also said he wanted to explore what it would be like for those closest to her to endure that kind of tragedy.

Knox said that "Stillwater," which premieres Friday in the U.S. and Canada, is "by no means the first" to "rip off" her story without consent and at the expense of her reputation.

The ending of the film differs greatly from the actual events of Knox's acquittal, she said. In the film, Allison is revealed to have asked the killer to help get rid of her roommate. While she didn't intend for him to kill her, her request indirectly led to the murder.

"How do you think that impacts my reputation?" Knox wrote. "By fictionalizing away my innocence, my total lack of involvement, by erasing the role of the authorities in my wrongful conviction, McCarthy reinforces an image of me as a guilty and untrustworthy person."

Knox said that McCarthy and Damon had "no moral obligation" to consult her about the fictional story, but said she and her family would have had a lot to tell the director if he had reached out to them.

Knox went on to talk about how Kercher, the victim, has largely been erased from the narrative as is her killer Rudy Guede. She pointed to a recent New York Post headline about Guede's release from prison which said "Man who killed Amanda Knox's roommate freed on community service."

"I want to pause right here on that phrase: 'the Amanda Knox saga,'" Knox wrote. "What does that refer to? Does it refer to anything I did? No."

After all, as Knox points out, her story is not "about an American woman studying abroad 'involved in some kind of sensational crime.' It's about an American woman not involved in a sensational crime, and yet wrongfully convicted."

Representatives from Universal, which distributes the film, did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

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'How did I mess that up?': Matt Damon talks 'Stillwater,' parenting and writing again with Ben Affleck

USA TODAY 28 July, 2021 - 09:17am

Matt Damon plays a relatable red state father desperate to help his daughter in 'Stillwater' and re-teams with buddy Ben Affleck for 'The Last Duel.'

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Matt Damon chats with USA TODAY's Brian Truitt about his new movie "Stillwater" and sending his kids back to school this fall. USA TODAY

Matt Damon is so surrounded by women in his life that it takes a visiting nephew making a comment about the all-female vibe for him to notice.

“I am quite regularly the only man in a room, and I don't even think about it anymore,” says Damon, who has three daughters – Isabella, 15, Gia, 12, and Stella, 10 – with wife Luciana Barroso, as well as 23-year-old stepdaughter Alexia.

As a father, Damon could relate deeply to playing a dad doing his best in a bad situation in director Tom McCarthy’s thriller “Stillwater” (in theaters Friday). His character, Bill Baker, is a former Oklahoma oil roughneck who, after struggling with drugs and alcohol in his past, desperately tries to help his estranged daughter, Allison (Abigail Breslin).

Convicted of murdering her girlfriend in Marseille, France, and serving a nine-year sentence, Allison always claimed innocence and now has a possible lead on the actual killer. Bill moves overseas to help and strikes up a relationship with theater actress Virginie (Camille Cottin) and her 8-year-old daughter, Maya (Lilou Siauvaud).

Damon says he found it “very easy” to access the pain and grief Bill feels as a parent: “Imagine carrying the guilt and shame of years of addiction and feeling like you failed that person and then feeling responsible for where they find themselves in their life. That would be a nightmare scenario.” 

As hard as Bill tries, he can’t help messing up, and that’s also relatable for Damon, 50. “Everyone knows that feeling when you go and put your head down on the pillow at the end of the day and you're like, ‘Man, how did I mess that up so bad?’” he says, laughing. “That's part of parenting. We gotta go easy on ourselves, too, sometimes. It doesn't come with a manual. We didn't take a class. We're all doing the best we can and winging it.”

“Stillwater" also addresses the country's political divide: Bill is an unapologetic, tattooed red state American, though he's introduced to a bigger world view.

“Ideally, you spend a couple hours with this guy and you understand that he's had a tough life and he's made mistakes, but I hope you feel empathy for him,” Damon says. “I certainly did.”

McCarthy and Damon traveled to Oklahoma to spend time with real roughnecks, and McCarthy once made the “ridiculous” mistake of ordering a yogurt parfait.

“To this day, these guys still give me (grief)," he says. "Most people are way more dimensional than we give them credit for at first glance. They're roughnecks, they're farmers, they're family men, and they're really curious people."

During their meetings, the locals also very quickly got over the “Matt Damon” of it all. One ribbed Damon about “Promised Land,” a 2012 film he and John Krasinski wrote about fracking.

“He goes, ‘Boy, I hope I like this oil movie better than the last one you did,’" Damon says, laughing. “What binds us is so much greater than what divides us."

Damon wanted to reflect such real-life interactions in Bill’s taciturn nature, which humorously contrasts with the chatty Virginie during car rides. On real-life road trips, Damon can be a talker.

“If you get me going on something, I don't shut up,” the actor says. Unless he's with a bud: He recalls a time when he didn’t love to fly and often drove cross-country with longtime friend Ben Affleck.

“There was always one part of the trip where we'd turn and go: 'Did we say anything to each other that state? Did we talk in Nebraska? I don't think we did,'" he says, "But when you know someone really well, it's that level of comfort."

For the first time since winning an Oscar for 1997’s “Good Will Hunting,” Damon and Affleck teamed up again as screenwriters for director Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel” (in theaters Oct. 15). Set in 14th-century France during the Hundred Years' War, the medieval drama stars Damon as an accomplished knight, Jodie Comer as his wife and Adam Driver is the knight’s friend-turned rival she accuses of a vicious assault. (Nicole Holofcener joined Damon and Affleck's screenwriting team for the drama, which is told through both male and female perspectives.) 

“I loved it,” Damon says of reteaming with Affleck. “We hadn't written together in 25 years, in large part because it seemed like such a daunting task. ‘Good Will Hunting’ took us so long because we didn't really understand structure. We understood the characters and we'd put them in different situations, but they didn't necessarily cohere into one narrative. We ended up with thousands of pages of different scenes, and then we just kind of mashed them together and made ‘Good Will Hunting’ out of it.”

With “Last Duel,” though, “it went really fast. So it made us feel like, 'Oh, let's write some more stuff (now).'”

In the period film, Damon rocks an extreme, gnarly long beard. The women in his life made it known they aren't particularly fond of his "Last Duel" makeover – or his Oklahoman goatee in "Stillwater."

"My wife doesn’t like a goatee and I like a goatee," Damon says. "So that look was particularly irksome to her. But the chin mullet and facial scars were taking it to another level, definitely."

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