Although The Brown Bunny left critics cold - it is currently the worst-rated competition film ever to be judged by Screen International's critics' jury, behind both Johnny Depp's The Brave and Mathieu Kassovitz' Assassins - producer-director-actor-writer-editor-camera operator Vincent Gallo lifted the press out of mid-festival doldrums yesterday with a rousing defence of his work.

Winona Ryder, however, might not be so pleased to hear herself described as a "ball-buster" who "takes tablets which seem to have a bad impact on her behaviour." The way Gallo tells it, he fired Ryder from the New Hampshire set of The Brown Bunny - not to mention Kirsten Dunst who had a "lunatic nasty woman as an agent" and so never made it to the screen either. Perhaps just as well, as notices for The Brown Bunny were damning.

"I've accepted unpopularity since very early in my life," said Gallo, phlegmatically. "It's in my comfort zone. "

The Brown Bunny, he clarified, is the "only film I really wanted to make" - and he did it by himself "not because I'm narcissistic or anything else you say behind my back. I look forward to being able to have relationships with other people on my next film."

Ultimately, however, he said "sitting here and talking about my film as if I had any intellectual control over it is dishonest and not realistic - who knows why I do things'" The critics may disagree with him, but Gallo is convinced that "the best things I do in my life will be more interesting than me and why I made them."

Flanked by Chloe Sevigny, who participates with Gallo in a highly-graphic fellatio sequence, the director said: "I'm still very moved by it."

To sum up: "I made what I wanted to make," said Gallo. "If I was successful or not I don't know. That's for the critics, the harsh critics, to describe."