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"Holy Smoke"


Directed by: Jane Campion
Written by: Anna and Jane Campion
Producer: Jan Chapman

        Cast:
        Ruth: Kate Winslet
        PJ Waters: Harvey Keitel
        Miriam: Julie Hamilton
        Gilbert: Tim Robertson
        Yvonne: Sophie Lee
        Robbie: Dan Wyllie
        Tim: Paul Goddard
        Prue: Samantha Murray
        Stan: Austen Tayshus
        Carol: Pam Grier

Director Jane Campion on the film: "'Holy Smoke!' is quite religious in the big, broadminded sense, in the big, grownup sense...completely unafraid, not dogmatic, rigorous, always questioning and reconfirming faith. A fun but very painful process. I'm hoping that now, just at the turn of the millennium, the film will open up a  line of inquiry about ways of Western thinking and questions about layers of commitment and illusion in the spiritual life. I tried very hard to tell a story that doesn't talk about this in a simple way, doesn't tell you solutions."

Keitel on the message of the film: "It's an affirmation for me of the need we have for something holy in our lives, and of the abuse of what we want to call 'holy' in order to hide from ourselves."

Campion on the character of Ruth: "This character is full of fascist and fundamental energy. It's elemental, beautiful, transforming, and it's only available for a short period of time. It's a kind of girlshine; as she learns more about life it will be shadowed. That is the nature of growing up. 'Holy Smoke!' begins in joyous mystery, before the shadowing. And what a struggle back from there, up from there."

On the actors: "The work was personal and the actors were so brave that each day felt like an adventure. They took me and the script places I didn't anticipate."

Winslet on the film and her character: "I describe it as a young girl's spiritual journey that becomes a journey about who she really is. And I think it's typical in a young woman's life to find that time when you're wanting to be a woman and desperate to be appreciated as an adult, but you're not quite there yet...[She's] very taken with all the spirituality that she discovers in India. And then, it sort of turns into a deep love story."

On playing Ruth: "I was allowed to be completely 'out there'. And I had to be totally fearless. Actually, that's the hardest thing as an actor to do - just to let go of your all own fears and just put it out there. And with this character, I had to do that more than I have ever had to before."

Producer Chapman on Winslet: "Kate was sensational. Jane actually turned to me in the middle of the screen test and said, 'I love her.' Kate had an emotional intelligence that went beyond her years, and was immediately evident. She conveys a sense of feeling and experiencing things in this really complex way, and is able to express that complexity. We hadn't met anyone else who had that level of power and intensity. She and Harvey were equals in the kind of energy they create."

On filming the scenes in the halfway hut: "This was the most painstaking and time-consuming period of the shoot, but it was also very exciting in terms of the exquisite truth of performance we were getting from Harvey and Kate. I was shocked in the rushes by the amazing depth of their faces in close-up, Kate's beauty also - fulsome and majestic, so - womanly."

Editor Veronika Jenet: "When I read the script of 'Holy Smoke!' I realized that we were going to see things that you don't often see, a rawness and truthfulness to the relationships. These two people, the young spunky girl and the middle aged maestro - were going to be extraordinarily frank with each other. They are going on a journey where even married people often don't dare go. Kate's and Harvey's performances as PJ and Ruth were absolutely stunning. I think even Jane, when she saw the final assembly cut, was amazed. The range of performances that Kate produced was extraordinary, different nuances that nobody might even have been fully aware of at the time. It's a very full-on performance for such a young actor. It's a pleasure when you have such wonderful performances to edit with; it give you such choices, such opportunity to explore."

Harvey Keitel comments on Kate: "After Titanic, Kate could have taken any film she wanted, but instead of worshipping money she went to make personal films, Hideous Kinky, Holy Smoke. She sets a standard for her generation and shows them that there is an ethic that's available to them aside from the ethic of commerciality."