Heartthrob Clooney hopes to charm Merkel over refugees

AFP - [email protected]
Heartthrob Clooney hopes to charm Merkel over refugees
Photo: DPA

George Clooney said he would meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and asylum-seekers about Europe's refugee crisis as he opened the Berlin film festival Thursday.


Clooney, an activist for many humanitarian causes whose new movie "Hail, Caesar!" by the Coen brothers is kicking off the 11-day cinema showcase, said he wanted to hear how he could use his star power to lend a hand.

"I'm having a meeting with Angela Merkel tomorrow to talk about and ask what messages and what things we can do... to help," said Clooney, who is in town with his wife Amal, a Lebanese-born human rights lawyer.

A spokeswoman for Merkel could not immediately comment on plans for a meeting.

The US actor said later that he would also meet with asylum-seekers, around 80,000 of whom arrived in the German capital in 2015 alone.

Europe is grappling its most serious refugee crisis since World War II, with Germany letting in nearly 1.1 million people fleeing war and poverty last year.

Merkel has come under fire for her welcoming stance toward the newcomers, just as European neighbours resist her calls to share out the burden.

Although the Berlin film festival is spotlighting around a dozen films focused on refugees, Clooney admitted it would take time before Hollywood would turn its attention to such stories.

"The unfortunate thing about the film community is we react to situations much more than we lead the way. News stories have to continue to happen and then scripts are written and it takes a couple years before people are actually making films about it," he told reporters.

"It's also very difficult to just make a subject film. You have to have a reason - a character and a reason to make it."
Clooney said he had been frustrated in the past with his attempts to turn causes he cared about into movies.

"I've often struggled with the idea of trying to find ways to make a film about the Sudan and about Darfur which is something that's very close to me and I've spent a lot of time on," he said.

"But I haven't been able to find the proper venue or the proper script yet to be able to do it -- it's a tough thing to do."

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