Filmmaker Rupesh Paul doesn’t think it’s too soon to take the story of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to the big screen.
But when he made the case on CNN Tuesday for “The Vanishing Act,” a dramatic adaptation of the missing Malaysian airline that he has been shopping to potential buyers at Cannes, co-anchors John Berman and Michaela Pereira questioned his sensitivity.
“Obviously, the Flight 370 story is a tragedy and it’s a tragedy that’s by no means resolved,” CNN’s John Berman said. “The families of the people on board that flight still have no sense of what happened to that plane. Have you considered at all what this film — how it might affect them?”
“There’s a lot of hysteria on social media against the movie,” Paul acknowledged, “but we, all the crew, are taking this very seriously and this movie has no intentions to hurt one single person who traveled in the flight.”
“We are considering the story of this movie very seriously because it came to me as an investigative report which was proposed to be published as a book, not as a movie … So basically the content is basically off the book which was very serious with a lot of revelations in it,” Paul explained.
Co-host Michaela Pereira didn’t quite buy that explanation.
“But, sir, while I understand that you say you take this very seriously and that you’re basing this on what you say is hard data, et cetera, why not wait then?” Pereira asked. “If you don’t have the intention to hurt somebody, you don’t think that the timing or the emotions of the families are still very raw? They have no closure, they don’t know what happened to their loved ones, why not just wait?”
“What I’m saying is is please treat this movie as an investigation report,” Paul said. “So this movie is also based on facts. It’s not 100 percent fiction.”
“You say it’s based on facts, (but) so many of the facts are still unknown,” Berman said. “And I just was looking at that trailer right now. We saw people making out on the plane. We saw the terrified faces of the passengers and that’s what concerns me a little bit. You’re depicting these people and the outcome is still very much unknown about them. And I shudder to think what the families who see that might think, sir.”
But Paul insisted that the trailer was created for marketing purposes and has “nothing to do with the actual story of the movie.”
“There’s stock footage in it,” he said. “So basically it was to pitch the market for finding co-producers for it.”
When Berman asked what happens to the plane in his film, Paul said, “If I tell that, there is no point in making the movie.”
But he added, “It’s going to be a very hopeful ending.”
Pereira and Berman rolled their eyes at Paul’s explanation.
“That’s the part that I think is going to leave a bad taste in some people’s mouth,” Pereira said.
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