Congo musicians, Rolling Stones star at Cannes side-fest

20th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

Disabled Congolese street musicians and ageing rockers The Rolling Stones star in the prestigious Directors' Fortnight running alongside the Cannes film festival in May, organisers said on Tuesday.

Heading a line-up marked by high-profile documentaries, the French makers of the film "Benda Bilili", Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye, found the Congolese musicians, some wheelchair-bound, in the slums of Kinshasa.

They filmed in neighbourhoods "where no white people ever go, and that shows from the first moment," said Frederic Boyer, the new artistic director of the Fortnight, singling out the film among its highlights.

The project invites comparisons with "Buena Vista Social Club", Wim Wenders's 1999 film about ageing Cuban musicians which was nominated for an Oscar and propelled the musicians involved to worldwide fame.

Boyer highlighted the three other documentaries in the event, including "Stones in Exile" from Britain, about the recording of The Rolling Stones' classic album "Exile on Main Street", due for re-release next month.

The organisers told AFP they expected all of the Stones -- Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood -- to come to Cannes for the film's premier, but could not confirm whether they would play a concert there.

Another entry from France, "Cleveland Versus Wall Street" by Jean-Stephane Bron, simulates a trial of bankers blamed for the financial crisis.

A fourth documentary, which like "Stones in Exile" will receive a special screening but is not part of the official selection, is "Boxing Gym" by US director Frederick Wiseman.

Among the dramas featuring in the fortnight, in and out of competition for the Camera d'Or prize, is "The Light Thief", a new film from the volatile central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan by Aktan Arym Kubat.

"It's about the people in Kyrgyzstan, their relations with the Russian mafia," Boyer said, citing its "geopolitical" interest after recent political upheaval there. "But it is above all a great film," said Boyer.

This year's selection for the fortnight was light on films from Asia, however, Boyer noted. Apart from Kubat's film, just one comes from the continent: "Tiger Factory" by Woo Ming Jin of Malaysia.

Launched in 1968 by avant-garde directors including Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, Directors' Fortnight focuses on discovering new talent. Of the 22 films selected this year, 11 are by first-time directors.

Another side-festival at Cannes, Critics' Week which runs from May 12 to 21, on Monday unveiled its selection of work by new young filmmakers, with Asia more strongly represented.

Entries include "Armadillo" by Janus Metz of Denmark, a documentary about young soldiers in Afghanistan, and "Bedevilled" by Jang Cheol So of South Korea.

"We were quite impressed by Asia," the head of the event, Jean-Christophe Berjon, told AFP. "Three of the seven films in competition (are from there), in very contrasting styles."

The two other Asian films in Critics' Week are "Sandcastle" by Boo Junfeng from Singapore and "Bi, Dung So" by Phan Dang Di from Vietnam.

© 2010 AFP

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