Cannes tackles absent fathers, wayward sons
Absent fathers and wayward sons give emotional guts to this year's Cannes festival, led by acclaimed Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai whose film kicked off the competition.
As well as Wang's "Chongqing Blues", films by Britain's Ridley Scott and Mexico's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu plus Hungarian and French directors offer fresh takes on the father-son theme in entries for the Palme d'Or top prize.
On Wednesday evening, Australian actor Russell Crowe hit the red carpet for the world premiere of British director Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood".
Scott's take on the legend reinvents the English outlaw as a rootless orphan, traumatised at age six by witnessing his father's execution and adopted in adulthood by a bereaved man played by Swedish veteran Max von Sydow.
In "Chongqing Blues", a highlight of the Palme competition's first day, actor Wang Xueqi plays a divorced sailor who returns from sea looking for the truth behind the violent death of his son whom he left behind years before.
"The father can't recover lost time but he does move closer to his son," Wang told reporters after the screening of his film. The son "refused the world because his father refused him," he added.
"The father is long absent. The film reflects the feelings and relations between father and son."
Among these sombre and violent tales, comic relief came on Thursday from "On Tour" by French film-maker Mathieu Amalric -- best known internationally as the villain in the James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace".
The director also plays the leading role of down-at-heel empresario Joachim Zand, struggling to reconnect with his two young sons who wait in the wings while he runs a tour by a troupe of American burlesque stripteasers.
The buxom dancers frolicked for the cameras on the red carpet at Thursday night's gala screening, accompanied by Amalric, whose loveable loser character contrasted sharply with some of the darker offerings of the 12-day festival.
Screening next week, Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo's Palme entry "Tender Son -- The Frankenstein Project" tells of a disturbed young man who embarks on a murderous search for his lost father.
In "Biutiful" by Mexican director Inarritu, the Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem plays an underworld character struggling to protect his children, according to organisers. It premieres on Monday.
Critics have noted that this year all the Palme entries are directed by men.
© 2010 AFP