Real life heroes star in Clint Eastwood French attack movie

Alek Skarlatos, left, Spencer Stone, center, and Anthony Sadler overpowered a gunman on a Paris-bound train in 2015. The three childhood friends play themselves in a movie about the incident, opening in US movie theaters on Friday. (Getty Images)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Real life heroes star in Clint Eastwood French attack movie

LOS ANGELES: In 2015 they were hailed as heroes by US President Barack Obama and given France’s highest honors.
This week, the three American childhood friends who overpowered a man wielding an assault rifle and a box cutter on a passenger train to Paris are starring in a Clint Eastwood movie about the attack, and it’s feeling a little surreal.
Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos from Sacramento, California, play themselves in the movie “The 15:17 to Paris,” opening in US movie theaters on Friday.
After meeting the three men in their 20s at an awards show, Eastwood decided to make a film, but rather than casting actors, the Oscar-winning director called on the friends themselves.
“Three weeks before shooting, he’s like ‘Do you guys want to do it yourselves?’ and we were like ‘What? The movie starts in three weeks and we never took acting classes,’” Sadler said.
“(Eastwood) was like ‘Don’t worry about it. We’re just going to go and do it.’ So he just kept it simple and said ‘Be yourself and we’re just going to capture it’,” he added.
The trio were on a train from Amsterdam to Paris on a European vacation on Aug. 21, 2015 when a suspected Islamist militant opened fire on passengers.
They helped overpower the man, and Stone plugged the wounds of another passenger with his fingers after being struck himself by the attacker. Two other passengers were wounded and the attacker was arrested when the train stopped.
Stone is glad the film also honors the other people who sprang into action. In the film, many of the passengers are the same people who were on the train in 2015.
“A lot of the times the story is depicted that we were the only ones who did anything,” he said. “For them to be honored for what they did in such a big way is awesome because it’s something we’ve always wanted but we just didn’t know how we could do that.
“We just wanted to get it right and I think we did,” Stone added.
Skarlatos said shooting the movie “helped us close a chapter in our lives and move on.”
But the trio is also hoping it opens other doors.
“Hopefully this launches movie careers for all three of us,” said Sadler. “We’re all trying to pursue acting. We’ve kind of caught the acting bug and he (Eastwood) gave us the confidence to do it.”


Lebanese director wins Cannes jury prize

Nadine Labaki, along with Zain Al-Rafeea, shows the jury prize award for ‘Capernaum’ at Cannes on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2018
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Lebanese director wins Cannes jury prize

  • Labaki took six months to make “Capernaum,” which relied on amateur actors.
  • “Shoplifters,” directed by Japanese filmmaker Hizokazu Kore-eda, was awarded the Palme d’Or.

CANNES, France: Lebanese director Nadine Labaki won the Cannes jury prize on Saturday for “Capernaum” — her devastating portrayal of poverty in Beirut.

The film, set among the city’s poor, left audiences in tears with a breathtaking performance by Zain Al-Rafeea, a 13-year-old Syrian refugee boy.

Labaki had been tipped to become only the second woman to win the Palme d’Or, but the jury, led by Cate Blanchett, awarded that honor to “Shoplifters,” directed by Japanese filmmaker Hizokazu Kore-eda.

The winners were announced during the Cannes closing ceremony after one of the strongest festivals for Arab films in decades.

Labaki took six months to make “Capernaum,” which relied on amateur actors. Zain plays a boy of the same name who runs away from home after his desperate mother and father sell his 11-year-old sister into marriage for a few chickens. 

He then takes his parents to court for having brought him into the world.

Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” the highest-profile American film in competition at Cannes, was awarded the grand prize. The film ignited the French Riviera festival with its true tale of a black police detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. 

Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters” is about a small-time thief who takes a young girl home to his family after seeing scars from abuse. The family decide to keep the girl and raise her as their own.