Matt Damon revealed he is in the early stages of research in a documentary project tackling the war in Ukraine at the Berlin Film Festival on Sunday.
The Jason Bourne actor and producer was at the festival as one of the producers on the documentary Kiss The Future, revisiting the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s through the prism of U2’s solidarity with the city’s besieged citizens.
Asked if he could see himself getting involved in a documentary on the war in Ukraine, in the vein of Sean Penn’s Superpower, Damon revealed he was researching a potential project.
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He said he had never exchanged with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy but had met his wife Olena Zelenska at the U.N. Assembly last year.
“I think a lot of wonderful films are being made about it now. I’m sure there will be many, many more going forward. We don’t have anything on right now… although we actually do have somebody over there researching one but it’s in its early stages.
Damon boarded Kiss The Future under the banner of his former joint company with Ben Affleck, Pearl Street Films, having been approached by Yugoslavia-born Canadian, San Francisco director Nenad Cicin-Sain at the development stage.
The actor and producer said he had been “intuitively” drawn to the project in the same way he selects roles as an actor. He said he had been “a sounding board” at the editing stage.
“Nenad very humble, but it was a very, very personal story for him and to listen to him talk about it, it was really impossible for us not to want to be involved,” Damon explained, when quizzed on his involvement at the press conference for the film.
Cicin-Sain said he had been drawn to the story of the U2 concert as a way to re-explore what had happened in Sarajevo after seeing a “re-flaring” of nationalism in the region in recent years.
An obstacle to the idea was that very little footage exists of the event. Cicin-Sain, who had worked with Damon and Affleck on other projects, knew Damon was friends with Bono and thought he might be able to help facilitate access.
Damon emphasized that Cicin-Sain along with screenwriter Bill S. Carter, producer Sarah Anthony at Los Angeles-based Good Wolves Productions, Pearl Street EVP Drew Vinton and editor Eric Burton had been the real drivers of the final film.
“It was a very hard production for the people who were day to day on it, Sarah, Eric, for all these people who like grinding and grinding in the edit. For me, I would get these cuts. Each cut I would watch was better than the last cut and it just kept getting better and better. It was exactly what he [Nenad] said he was going to do,” recalled Damon.
“We would get on the phone and talk for an hour or two. Really, he was using me as a sounding board at that point. It’s like, you get so close to a movie. Terrence Malick could call it ‘getting snowblind’ where you’re just you’re so deep in the edit, it’s very hard to see what you’re at.”
Damon said he was open to getting behind other documentaries but that they had to be projects he really believed in.
“This one just kind of came to me. It was a real blessing. It just it’s an incredible story… that these incredible people opened up and let us help tell it and were open with us, and these interviews that were just amazing. Their willingness and their vulnerability. That’s really what this was about,” he said.
“Our interests are in making things like this, but there’s not an overarching strategy… as we see these great stories we’ll do our best to facilitate the people who can tell them really, really well.”
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