News / Arts & Entertainment

Chechnya Film Booed, Cheered at Cannes, Godard Back at 83

(L-R) Producer Thomas Langmann, cast member Berenice Bejo, director Michel Hazanavicius, cast members Abdul Khalim Mamutsiev, Zukhra Duishvili and Maxim Emelyanov pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the screening of the film
(L-R) Producer Thomas Langmann, cast member Berenice Bejo, director Michel Hazanavicius, cast members Abdul Khalim Mamutsiev, Zukhra Duishvili and Maxim Emelyanov pose on the red carpet as they arrive for the screening of the film "The Search" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, May 21, 2014.
Reuters
A powerful indictment of the 1999 Chechen war by The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius was booed and cheered at Cannes on Wednesday while France's Jean-Luc Godard ventured into 3D for his latest festival entry at the age of 83.
 
Hazanavicius's The Search and Godard's Adieu au Langage (Goodbye to Language) are two of the films by French directors competing in the world's largest cinema showcase for the prestigious Palme d'Or prize, to be awarded on Saturday.
 
Fans of The Artist, an uplifting Hollywood fairy tale, will be in for a visceral shock with Hazanavicius's latest.
 
“Welcome to this big shit-hole - Chechnya,” are the movie's opening words, uttered by a Russian soldier videotaping scenes of burnt-out buildings, dead livestock and, later, the murder of villagers in a war seen by some as Russia's Vietnam.
 
Chechnya fought a separatist war in 1994-96 briefly shaking off Russian rule, but lost the second in 1999-2000 when Russia's then-prime minister, Vladimir Putin, re-established control over the region.

Hazanavicius cuts between two story lines to portray the war and the lives torn apart by it. In the main one, 9-year-old Hadji  - played by Abdul-Khalim Mamatsuiev - flees his destroyed, abandoned village, his baby brother in tow, after his parents are killed by Russian soldiers.
 
He is discovered outside a refugee center by Carole (Berenice Bejo), a European Union human rights worker documenting abuses and struggling to galvanize public outrage to spur a strong response to the war from the West.
 
In the second strand, 19-year-old Kolia (Maxim Emelianov) is arrested for smoking pot and forced into the Russian army. He is seen going through a stomach-turning training process designed to prepare him psychologically to see Chechens as “terrorists”.
 
When he reaches the front, he loses no time in killing his first two “terrorists” - an old man and a boy.
 
“I think everyone knows the Russian army massacred hordes of people in Chechnya. It's a historical fact,” Hazanavicius told journalists and critics at a press conference.
 
“The film is a political one but I've tried to ensure it doesn't take sides, ultimately,” said the director, adding that his interest was in showing “human beings subjected to war”.
 
“I've tried to focus on the human angle because that's what interests me.”
 
While the movie finds its emotional center in Hadji, the screenplay stumbles with its heavy-handed reproach of the West's hands-off approach to the war, expressed by Carole in lines such as: “I'm sick of your indifference while people are dying.”
 
“Bejo's considerable talent is squandered by treacly dialog,” IndieWire wrote. The Guardian cited “sincerity and commitment, and an earnest rejection of the horror of war” but criticized “sentimentality is at its core”.
 
A man, a woman, a dog
 
Returning to Cannes is the acclaimed pioneer of the French New Wave, Godard, who has made almost 40 films. The enigmatic synopsis of his 3D film, due to screen for journalists later on Wednesday, involved a married woman and a single man and a dog that weaves in and out of their lives.
 
(L-R) Cast members Christian Gregori, Jessica Erickson, Richard Chevallier, Heloise Godet, Zoe Bruneau and Kamel Abdelli pose during a photocall for the film
(L-R) Cast members Christian Gregori, Jessica Erickson, Richard Chevallier, Heloise Godet, Zoe Bruneau and Kamel Abdelli pose during a photocall for the film "Adieu au langage" (Goodbye to Language) in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, May 21, 2014.

Godard's Breathless broke with the established conventions of French cinema in 1960 and helped kickstart a new way of filmmaking, complete with handheld camera work, jump cuts and existential dialog.
 
The director participated in one of Cannes's most dramatic moments during the 1968 citizen uprisings throughout France. A sit-in at the main theater building by protesters including fellow directors Louis Malle and Francois Truffaut resulted in the festival being canceled.
 
While the festival, now in its 67th year, seeks to give a voice to directors old and new, some critics, including Scotland's Richard Mowe, feel there hasn't been enough variety.
 
“There are far too many familiar names who seem to be in there for no good reason than they are familiar names and have been to the festival many times before, not necessarily on merit,” Mowe, a juror for Director's Week, told Reuters.
 
“Thank God for the other sections in the festival which do get new blood.”

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.