The Austin Chronicle

Burn Hollywood Burn

"Desperado' feels the heat of anti-Americanism

By Marjorie Baumgarten, December 7, 2001, Screens

When we said that Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek smoldered in Robert Rodriguez's Desperado, we didn't mean it literally. But tell that to the mob of protesters in Quetta, Pakistan, who torched the Imbad Cinema in October after the U.S. military airstrikes began in neighboring Afghanistan. The Imbad, the only theatre in the Pakistani town to show American movies, was swept up in a wave of anti-American protest when a mob of demonstrators spotted the poster of its current attraction, Desperado, displayed in its window. According to several news reports, the mob, yelling "Death to America," set fire to the theatre in a day of violence that also saw the destruction of numerous businesses, banks, and the local UNICEF office. Desperado director Robert Rodriguez humbly suggests that "they were just pissed off because they keep getting the same stupid 1995 movie. With the Internet coming into play, they just now realize what old movies they're getting in Pakistan." Indie film legend John Pierson adds jokingly, "Think about how long it takes for some movies to get to Austin. Then just multiply it." But, perhaps, Desperado producer Elizabeth Avellán sums it up best when she says, "We all just have to laugh to keep from crying."

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