Deauville film fest closes under Sept 11 shadow

12th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

DEAUVILLE, France, Sept 11 (AFP) - America's post-September 11 anxieties were laid bare in a US film festival in France that closed Sunday -- on the fourth anniversary of the devastating attacks on New York and Washington.

DEAUVILLE, France, Sept 11 (AFP) - America's post-September 11 anxieties were laid bare in a US film festival in France that closed Sunday -- on the fourth anniversary of the devastating attacks on New York and Washington.

The 10-day event, held annually in this chic Normandy seaside resort, stood out this year for a line-up of quality dramas by independent filmmakers, many of whom tapped into a sense of alienation they believe is surging in their country.

'Crash' won the top prize for its ensemble piece in which disparate characters -- played by Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser -- find their lives intertwined in a Los Angeles where isolation and discrimination reign.

First-time director Paul Haggis, the Canadian-born screenwriter behind the Oscar-winning 'Million Dollar Baby', was not present to pick up the honour but said in a pre-recorded video statement that he was "very happy and proud to represent all the artists who made great sacrifices to make this film."

In all, 10 independent US films vied for prizes at the 10-day event while big Hollywood releases such as 'Cinderella Man' were shown out of competition.

Stars who turned up earlier in the festival to promote their latest releases included Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. for the noir comedy 'Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang', Pierce Brosnan for 'The Matador', and Kirsten Dunst for her romantic comedy 'Elizabethtown'.

The runner-up award, the Jury Prize, was shared between a gritty teen coming-of-age movie, 'On the Outs', and 'Keane', a story of man trying to come to terms with the abuction of his daughter.

'Transamerica', about a transsexual's journey cross-country with a son she didn't know she had, won the festival's Best Screenplay prize.

Lori Silverbush, one of the directors of 'On the Outs', made direct reference to the September 11 anniversary by saying that "four years ago today there were terrible images on the (television) screen" and blaming US President George W Bush for the unease America is experiencing today.

The 2001 attacks, Silverbush said, were "used to justify some very irresponsible leadership and some unfortunate choices by the United States.... Despite the war in Iraq and the war on terror, there's a war at home."

Her co-director, Michael Skolnik, added that Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in the southern United States reinforced their film's message by showing that "it's no longer a secret we have poor people in our country."

Other movies screened in competition at the festival put to the fore characters who were clearly outsiders and who opted out of the hypocrisy they believed to see around them.

They included 'Brick', a noir-style detective tale set in a modern-day LA high school, 'Pretty Persuasion', about a bright student pursuing a twisted agenda, and 'Edmond', a bland businessman's descent into hellish circumstances after he realises life has passed him by.

A few of the stars who turned out earlier in the festival also had harsh words for Bush and his administration.

Brosnan, the former James Bond actor living in the United States, told journalists at the start of the event that "this man called President Bush has a lot to answer for... I don't know if this man is really taking care of America."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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