'Outside the Law' controversy: Right-wingers and war veterans irked
Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law / Hors-la-loi hasn't even had its Cannes Film Festival Official Competition screening yet – that will be on May 21, '10 – but it's already being reviled by right-wing French politicians and war veterans.
Directed and written by Bouchareb, Outside the Law is a political drama/thriller about Algeria's struggle for independence from France following World War II – an issue that remains an ugly, painful, open wound in French society.
The criticism against his latest film has forced the Parisian-born Bouchareb to speak up at the festival.
“Cinema must be able to broach all subjects,” the 50-year-old filmmaker remarked, adding, “committed as I am to freedom of expression, it seems to me normal that some people disagree with my film, but I wish this disagreement were expressed in a peaceful way, in a calm debate of ideas.”
Algerian war of independence: Estimated 1 million dead
Those criticizing Outside the Law haven't watched the movie. Their complaints are based on how a version of the screenplay portrays France's role in the eight-year war, which left approximately one million people dead – the vast majority of them Algerians – and that eventually led to Algeria's independence in 1962.
Outside the Law features several performers found in Bouchareb's Oscar- and César-nominated war drama Days of Glory / Indigènes, including Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila, and Jamel Debbouze. The film shows how North African World War II veterans, fighting on the side of colonial power France, were discriminated both during and after the war.
Rachid Bouchareb quotes: Agence France Presse, via Expatica.com.
Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila Outside the Law image: Cannes Film Festival.
'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives': Cannes 2010
Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is one of the films in competition for the 2010 Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film tells the story of a dying man who decides to spend his last days in the countryside. Once there, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, while his long lost son returns home in non-human form. Eventually, Uncle Boonmee travels with his family to a hilltop cave where he finds the birthplace of his first life.
'Uncle Boonmee' and political unrest in Thailand
When asked by The Hollywood Reporter's Jonathan Landreth whether Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is in any way connected with current political events in Thailand – which led the government to declare a state of emergency in the country in April – Weerasethakul responded, “not directly. What's happened in Bangkok now is a class war.”
Here's a snippet from Landreth's interview:
THR: Is there a moral to the story you're telling in the film?
Weerasethakul: I'm really not sure what the audience will get because normally I don't like to have a message of my work. I think film is more than that. It should be more open to many different interpretations because we approach it from so many different backgrounds. Especially for this film, which has six reels, each one different in location and style. With me, there's a lot of talk about life as nonsense. It just goes on. So it is with cinema, too.
A Toronto Film Festival poll conducted in 2009 chose Weerasethakul's Syndromes and a Century as the best film of the decade.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives image: Cannes Film Festival.
Cannes Film Festival website.