Madonna reinvents herself as film director
The film's story reflects her own struggle for success.
Berlin -- Pop star Madonna might not appear in her directing debut, Fifth and Wisdom, but the film's story about the dreams of ordinary people appears to draw on her own struggle to reach the big time in the entertainment business.
Despite her success, Madonna told a press conference marking her movie's premiere at the Berlin Film Festival she said still she was struggling with the discovering the difference between "right and wrong and not to be tricked by illusions."
For her, Filth and Wisdom represented the duality of life. "You can learn and find enlightenment in both places - in filth and wisdom," she said.
After arriving in New York in the late 1970s with just 35 dollars in her pocket, Madonna battled her way to the top of one of the world's toughest games.
But her role as a movie actor has not been quite as consistent and it had seemed that the Material Girl's film career had run out of steam after a couple of flops in the cinema.
But throughout her 25-year career, Madonna has appeared remarkably adept at reinventing herself and demonstrating her talents by moving in new directions.
Now her hopes of carving out a role as film director rests on Filth and Wisdom, an 81-minutes comedy essentially about the hopes of ordinary people to find a way out of the drudgery of daily life.
But the Michigan-born singer is planning to mark her 50th birthday this year by not only transforming herself into a director, but also releasing a new album as well as a documentary about the ordeals of Malawi daily life.
The documentary, I Am Because We Are is to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May and follows the controversy Madonna found herself in last year after adopting a boy from Malawi.
The low-budget Filth and Wisdom was screened as part of Berlin Film Festival's Panorama section, which showcases independent and art-house cinema.
As a pop icon with worldwide record sales totaling more 200 million, the singer would appear to have achieved her dream. Forbes magazine recently named her the world's highest earning female musician.
In Fifth and Wisdom, Madonna does seem to draw on the various strands of her own life as told through three characters.
In the film's story, Andriy Krystiyan, played by Eugene Huetz, is a Ukrainian immigrant who takes an interest in philosophy and poetry, but is forced to finance his life by performing S & M acts for straight men.
Andriy is happiest when he out on the streets of London promoting his Ukrainian gypsy punk band to reach world stardom.
Apart from a passing resemblance to former Madonna partners Sean Penn and Tony Ward, Andriy also has a remarkable wardrobe for a struggling musician which changes seemingly by minute as the story in the movie unfolds.
Huetz in a sense plays himself in Fifth and Wisdom. His real life day job is fronting the gypsy-inspired punk band Gogol Bordello, which accompanied Madonna in a London concert.
"I think I secretly want to be a gypsy," she told Wednesday's press conference. "I like the idea of traveling around making music and letting life unfold."
Set in London, Fifth and Wisdom also seems to contain Madonna's observations and cliches about life in her adopted hometown, including an English fascination with dressing up in uniforms as naughty schoolboys and girls.
Andriy's two roommates in Filth and Wisdom also have their dreams.
While Juliette has ambitions to help the world's poor, Holly, played by Holly Weston, wants nothing more than a career as a prima ballerina.
For the moment, however, Juliette, played by Vicky McClure, has to see out her days behind the counter of a local chemist. So far Holly's hopes of a life on the stage are limited to her job as a pole dancer.
Filth and Wisdom also stars Richard E. Grant as a blind professor and British actor Stephen Graham as the Indian chemist.
Despite the popularity of 1980's Desperate Seeking Susan, in which Madonna played Susan, and winning a Golden Globe for her role in Evita, her movie days appeared to come to an end in 2002 after Swept Away.
Directed by her husband Tim Ritchie and starring Madonna, Swept Away was almost laughed out of cinemas by film critics.
DPA with Expatica