Diana inquest film 'Unlawful Killing' premieres in Cannes
The eagerly awaited film about the inquest into the death of Princess Diana, "Unlawful Killing" premiered at the Cannes festival on Friday, alleging the "mafia in tiaras" was behind her death.
The film, financed by Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi Fayed died with his lover Diana in the August 1997 Paris car crash, and directed by comedian Keith Allen, bills itself as an "inquest into the inquest" that ran from 2007-2008.
The longest-running and most expensive inquest in British history returned the verdict from which the film takes its title, and as former British tabloid editor Piers Morgan tells Allen it "raised more questions than it answered."
The same could be said of the film, which launches a full-frontal attack on the British establishment and in particular the "royal" justice system and the monarchy Fayed believes was behind the fatal crash in a Paris road tunnel.
"The film is a film from my POV (point of view). I think the French call it 'auteur'," he said at a tempestuous post-screening press conference where he was repeatedly asked why the film fails to mention its financing by Fayed.
Speaking to a small group of journalists later, Allen defended the film against accusations of bias.
"Here's balance: over there you have the world's press and how they present the story, and over here you have me. Now the fact that we're not in the same programme at the same time to me doesn't represent balance, what represents balance is my opinion and your opinion.
"Now everyone else has had their opportunity, you know what the story is, now here's my version, now I say that contributes to balance."
As to being a threat to the establishment, Allen said: "In the greater scheme of things I'm about as much threat as an empty bag. If I was the establishment I'd say let him say what he likes, it will be tomorrow's fish-and-chip paper."
The film's main point is that British media failed to understand the verdict itself, which blamed unidentified vehicles following Diana's car but did not blame the paparazzi trailing behind, as the headlines at the time suggested.
It comes good on its promise to show a picture of a dying Diana, a grainy black and white image of her slumped in the back of the crumpled Mercedes-Benz sedan, with her hair but little of her face visible.
As Allen said, the photo is "in no way as sensational as you think it's going to be."
"I will understand when you come up to me and say I don't know what all the fuss is about," Allen, whose daughter is pop singer Lily Allen, told the packed audience of journalists, film buyers and industry professionals in Cannes.
Richard Wiseman pretended to be a journalist and attended the inquest on behalf of the film and took notes on what the assembled media were saying rather than following the proceedings.
The resulting quotes from bored journalists are entertaining, but not really surprising or enlightening.
Despite the subject matter, the film is at times laugh-out-loud funny, and Allen said the humour had in fact been toned down.
"I had to withdraw elements of the film that I thought reflected me. It became less important what reflected me, it was more about what this inquest was about, so there was a lot of humour in it at one time," he said.
Much is made of Prince Philip's childhood in Nazi Germany, and the allegations made against Queen Elizabeth's consort mean the film is unlikely to ever be show in Britain.
A psychologist asserts that Philip is a psychopath and a serial adulterer, although, as with most of its allegations, the film presents no evidence of this.
The film says it contacted many members of the royal family, including Philip, offering them a right to reply. None accepted.
There is emotional footage of Fayed visiting the memorial to his son in his garden in the British countryside, and of him burning the royal warrants that he had to remove from Harrods department store, which he owned, by order.
Fayed says he hopes his son is watching as the wooden emblems of the British establishment burn.
© 2011 AFP