Benigni calls "Blasphemy!"

Madcap Italian director gets riled about cell phone films…

You know you’re in trouble when Roberto Benigni, a man known for clambering over fellow nominees at the Oscars, is protesting about something. So it was in Rome, when what was supposed to be an exciting premiere for a new films-on-mobile-phones service, turned into distinctly bad publicity.

The plan called for Italian mobile users to be able to pay €9 to watch The Interpreter as many times on their phones as they wanted for a week. But not everyone’s pleased about the idea. Some major Italian exhibitors – angry that this will happen while they’re still trying to make money showing the film – have pulled it from their cinemas.

Which brings us to a major Italian exhibitionist. Benigni has waded into the fray, claiming that it’s a terrible idea. “Watching a film on a cellular phone is a contradiction that borders on blasphemy,” said the actor-director at a film conference in Rome. “The beauty of cinema is watching it on the screen. On a cellular phone you only get a small taste.”

Next month, expect publicity-hound actor Vincent Gallo to claim that the video iPod is “the worst thing since ritual sacrifice.”