Standing ovation for film about US racism, alienation

5th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

DEAUVILLE, France, Sept 4 (AFP) - 'Crash', a movie about the dark side of America -- its racism, urban alienation and crime -- won a standing ovation at a screening at a French film festival Monday.

DEAUVILLE, France, Sept 4 (AFP) - 'Crash', a movie about the dark side of America -- its racism, urban alienation and crime -- won a standing ovation at a screening at a French film festival Monday.

The enthusiastic reaction to the feature, an ensemble piece starring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Brendan Fraser, Matt Dillon, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges and Thandie Newton augured well for its chances in the competition in the event being held in the Normandy town of Deauville, which each year showcases new Hollywood releases.

More importantly, the response it has generated here and elsewhere has clearly set it up to be a contender for the next Oscars ceremony.

The movie follows various ordinary characters, several of them police officers, as they deal or suffer crime and racial discrimination in Los Angeles, where their daily lives are intertwined to redemptive or bloody effect.

It's an unsafe, violent world filled with pathos and a sometimes depressing hyper-reality that is counterbalanced by near-miraculous coincidences.

Unlike many mainstream movies, it relies on the strong characterisations -- filled out by well-known actors working for less than their usual fees -- in which good and bad coexist in each of the personages.

"We give you characters we'd feel very comfortable judging, and then go: 'Oh yeah? Watch this'," said Canadian-born director, Paul Haggis.

Haggis explained that the germ of the idea behind his script came from a 1991 carjacking he experienced in his adopted Los Angeles, and that the movie developed as the characters filled out.

"It was very important to me to talk about my fears," Haggis said, adding that the LA setting in the movie was meant to be representative of the alienation many people feel in modern cities in which they are increasingly separated from others by cars and prejudices.

Dillon, the sole member of the cast to present the film at Deauville, said his own ideas changed as he researched his role as an LA police officer -- a figure he previously thought abused their power over citizens.

He also paused a moment to reflect on how some of the themes -- notably America's uneasy black-white relations and urban insecurity -- had emerged in real life in the country's deep south after the devastating Hurricane Katrina.

Louisana, the worst-hit state, he likened to "a poor country in the Carribean", and said that "it's upsetting to be here and see what's going on over there".

The movie was the first entry in Deauville's competition section to be screened.

Another nine films by independent producers are to be shown, alongside bigger Hollywood productions being screened out of competition, with the festival to wrap up with an awards night on Sunday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Living in France

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