Clooney gets po­lit­i­cal

‘Hous­ton is Syria,’ star says at TIFF


TORONTO — Ge­orge Clooney says the storm dev­as­ta­tion wrought in Hous­ton is akin to the dam­age suf­fered in war-torn Syria.

The movie star made the anal­ogy at a press con­fer­ence to pro­mote his lat­est di­rec­to­rial ef­fort,

Subur­bicon, at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val. Clooney urged peo­ple to help Hous­ton res­i­dents still reel­ing from the af­ter­math of hur­ri­cane Har­vey, declar­ing: “Hous­ton is Syria, quite hon­estly.”

The movie star said vic­tims of the storm are now refugees “based on some­thing that had noth­ing to do with them.”

He also ex­pressed con­cern for those in Florida, where a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane plowed through the Florida Keys hours ear­lier with 215 km/h winds.

It would later be down­graded to a Cat­e­gory 2 storm, but by Sun­day morn­ing an es­ti­mated 127,000 peo­ple had al­ready been forced into shel­ters statewide while rain knocked out power to more than one mil­lion cus­tomers.

Talk turned po­lit­i­cal early on in Sun­day’s press con­fer­ence, where Clooney and stars Matt Da­mon, Ju­lianne Moore and Karimah West­brook freely delved into cur­rent events.

“Peo­ple in Hous­ton are now refugees based on some­thing that had noth­ing to do with them,” Clooney said of the dis­as­ter, which dev­as­tated much of Texas, caused at least 60 deaths and up to US$180 bil­lion in dam­age.

“They didn’t do any­thing. They are now vic­tims. And they are out of their homes and they’re go­ing to be suf­fer­ing for a long time. And much like the peo­ple and chil­dren in Syria we are go­ing to have to find ways to be in­volved. That is our job as ci­ti­zens of the world and all of us are go­ing to find our ways to do that.”

Racial ten­sions, rather than nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, are what rip peo­ple apart in Subur­bicon, set in idyl­lic 1950s sub­ur­bia.

The white neigh­bour­hood ex­plodes in racial vi­o­lence when a black fam­ily moves in, a plot point in­spired by a real in­ci­dent in Le­vit­town, Pa., in 1957.

Clooney, who co-wrote the dark satire with long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor Grant Heslov and Joel and Ethan Coen, couldn’t help but note the par­al­lels to re­cent protests in Char­lottesville, Va., and said the cast “just felt sick” when it came time to por­tray es­pe­cially racially charged scenes.


Ge­orge Clooney poses with fans at the pre­miere of Subur­bicon at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val on Satur­day.

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