Just Tell The Truth, Urges Film Director Mike Figgis At Deloitte Ignite Arts Festival
"Just tell the truth," is the edict of Mike Figgis.
The English director could surely be spending this weekend by his pool in Beverly Hills picking at projects and continuing to celebrate a handful of box-office glories - these include Leaving Las Vegas (Oscar-winning triumph for Nicolas Cage), Internal Affairs (career resurrection for Richard Gere) and Stormy Monday (a breakthrough role for Melanie Griffith).
But more excitingly, Figgis has turned his back on big-studio offers to concentrate his efforts and still intense imagination on far smaller but more satisfying projects.
These include curating a contemporary arts festival Deloitte Ignite, now in its fourth year, and where Figgis can use his still-handy speed-dial to bring together some of the arts world's most influential names to dig around what it means to be truthful in today's society - something which, Figgis explains, is more necessary than ever:
"We've seen in the last year, the great push for knowledge, to find out how our state is really running us, in our best interests as we're always being told. The good news is that we're all a bit more sophisticated these days, and, to a certain extent, those shields of pretence and self-interest will no longer wash."
"I'm very boosted by watching this Wikileaks business unfold, for example, and for governments in these so-called democracies to realise they really are accountable."
Figgis will play host at the Royal Opera House this weekend to a plethora of musicians, filmmakers, writers, comedians and artists, all charged with the task of "being truthful" in their own medium.
Big names include news presenter Jon Snow, sculptor Richard Wentworth, pop artist Peter Blake and fellow film iconoclast supreme David Lynch.
"I'm intrigued to know what we all think about the state of the culture that we all exist in," Figgis reflects. "For me, much of it is a mess, reduced to a very low level by the media and the internet."
That'll be the media that he once mastered, naming his price in Hollywood. "Yes, but I tasted too much of it," he explains. "It was important to be able to leave that behind to rediscover where my values lay, and work on what I thought was more relevant."
So does all this artifice - corridors of power, preening self-importance on screen, riots in the streets - leave him feeling hopeful for society or the opposite?
"Oh, I'm ever hopeful," he tells me. "I certainly don't have the answers, but I'm happy in the knowledge that we can hopefully create a forum where we can work out what are the right questions, and that's got to be a start."