Greed corrupting China, says top director
What do Oliver Stone and Wang Xiaoshuai have in common? Both film-makers, from the United States and China, are in Cannes with movies denouncing greed.
Wang's moving father-son drama "Chongqing Blues" is the award-winning film-maker's second stab at the coveted Palme d'Or prize that will be announced at the close of the 12-day film festival.
Stone's "Wall Street -- Money Never Sleeps", with Michael Douglas reprising a prophetic 1987 role, is not among the 19 films in competition but touches on the same ground obsessing the 43-year-old Chinese director nowadays.
"In China, all people talk about is money," Wang told AFP. "Money rules everything, money governs everything, money is the only value."
The director's poignant tale of a father seeking the truth about the violent death of his son won warm applause from critics at Cannes but prize or no prize, Wang says the film may never be shown.
"The biggest problem is not censorship in today's China, it's the market," he said.
"Cinemas are flourishing but all they want is to make quick money with commercial movies. A film on a serious subject like mine has little chance of being screened.
In "Chongqing Blues", screened on the Palme competition's first day, Wang Xueqi plays a divorced sailor who returns from sea following years of absence, after his son takes a hostage in a shopping mall and is shot dead by police.
Known for movies that take a hard gritty look at China, Wang through the tale explores the changing face of Chinese society.
"My message is to show through a petty crime such as a kidnapping -- which are becoming more and more common nowadays -- that Chinese youth have no aims, no convictions, no faith, no law," he said.
"They're lost! I want to alert people to this."
The movie is set in the foggy city of Chongqing in southern Sichuan province, a mess of sky-scrapers for blue-collar workers who in back streets and dingy courtyards often live communally as they did decades ago.
Indicting the power of money and the increasing gap between rich and poor, bespectacled Wang takes audiences through grimy workshop floors and harbour-fronts as well as teen clubs and fast-food outlets -- portraying China before and after.
"In China more and more families think that to give children a good education is to give them money. They don't have other ways of communicating with young people. Now for youths life is easy, they're aimless," Wang said.
Greed was a universal problem, said the director, whose movie mirrors many of the same problems seen in the West.
"But I wanted to warn that if we let human nature alone speak in China and do nothing, then we are heading for danger.
"Before human nature was crushed, silenced by communism. Now people are just concerned about money, so there's a loss of faith in the country, in politics."
Warming up to the subject, he said in a parting shot:
"I would like to denounce the fact that the most serious problem in China is that even when a trickster lies to make his money, people don't even think he's guilty."
© 2010 AFP