After months of media attention over the fights that supposedly went into the making of Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York, the film's key figures settled their score with the press at yesterday's footage screening. "This is real art, unlike half the shit in this goddam Hollywood" declared executive producer Harvey Weinstein

Based on the 20 minutes of footage shown to the press in Cannes, the consensus was that the wait for the film will have been worth it, with the combination of visceral violence and gorgeous photography delivering an impressive and epic feel.

Regarding speculation about the fist-fights that went on behind the scenes during production, Weinstein added, "this whole story is totally fucking exaggerated." Nonetheless, things clearly got heated once Scorsese delivered his first cut more than a year ago. "I'm a very excitable person," admitted Scorsese "and Harvey's a very colourful person. We've had our disagreements but I have to say that after every one, we've come to terms." Weinstein issued his own mea culpas "Yes I'm no angel and Jim Ivory can give you chapter and verse on that one, I'm sure," but then went to lash out at those who suggested that star Leonardo DiCaprio had been out late-night carousing during the shooting in Rome. "Where was Leo' He was working on the goddam script every night with Kenny Lonergan."

The two stars themselves seemed non-plussed by all the controversy, preferring to profess their admiration for co-star Daniel Day-Lewis. The UK actor was coaxed out of his two-year retirement as a shoe-maker in Florence to turn in a DeNiro performance as the butcherous villain. "It takes every fibre in [Day-Lewis'] body to delve into his characters," said DiCaprio.

"It's like a war for him. Each character is a battle." And so is everything else about this film, it seems.