Matt Damon was in town today in support of Promised Land, which has its international premiere here in competition. He was flanked by director Gus Van Sant and co-star and co-writer John Krasinski at a press conference where he spoke candidly about the film, noting his disappointment that it didn’t perform better in the U.S. When asked about the petroleum industry’s pre-emptively negative reaction to the film that deals with the controversial issue of fracking, Damon said, “People were expecting a certain kind of movie to attack and then waited to see how well it did. When the movie didn’t perform particularly well, they kind of just let it go.” Then he laughed and added, “The biggest attack we got was from critics.” The movie debuted in late December and took about $8M domestically. Damon said he hopes the film will still hit a mark with audiences (it rolls out overseas from next week). “It didn’t get the reception I would have hoped for, but it exists and it will exist… I’ve had movies bomb worse than this one and then make their money back later.” Even though he’s had “a lot of movies not well received by critics or audiences” he added, “this one, I really love it. It’s in my heart and I don’t understand what I’m hearing back.”

The actor is looking forward to returning to Berlin next month to start work on the George Clooney-directed The Monuments Men – (“Everyone else is so excited because George Clooney will be with me”) – but he said he wished the city had “the international airport it deserves.” A bugaboo for visitors from the U.S. is that the airport here doesn’t have direct connections to many non-European cities and Damon had to transfer through Frankfurt to arrive on Thursday. “As someone who loves coming here and loves working here, I would love to fly direct.”

And of course there was the obligatory question from the crowd about his BFF Ben Affleck whose Argo has lately emerged as a serious Oscar contender. Damon said, “Who knows what his chances are for Best Picture? I’m obviously pulling for those guys. But he’ll be fine either way.” He noted that the company he shares with Affleck, Pearl Street Films, will soon be able to become “more official” thanks to Argo. With the success of the film, Damon said Affleck called him a few months ago and exclaimed, “We gotta get offices!”