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 "The Search" in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, May 21, 2014.
    (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 "Adieu au langage" (Goodbye to Language) in competition at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, May 21, 2014.
    (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

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.

    New in Music Alley

    Soul Lounge: Sweet Honey in the Rocki
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 10, 2016 1:48 PM
    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B. The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.

    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B.   The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.