May 21, 2009

Docs at Cannes

As the Cannes Film Festival unspools, narrative films tend to get most of the attention. However, a few non-fiction treats manage to sneak in each year. Here’s the brief scoop on a several of the docs getting some notice.**

L'EPINE DANS LE COEUR (The thorn in the heart)
Director: Michel Gondry
Section: Special Screenings

Suzette, Michel Gondry's aunt, was a school teacher from 1952 to 1986 and she tells Michel how it was to be a teacher by then in a rural and isolated part of France. But little by little, Michel discovers some family stories he was totally unaware of and uses his camera to explore it in a subtle but very emotional way.

View clip

MY NEIGHBOR, MY KILLER
Director: Anne Aghion
Section: Special Screenings

Could you ever forgive the people who slaughtered your family? In 1994, hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutus were incited to wipe out the country’s Tutsi minority. From the crowded capital to the smallest village, local ‘patrols’ massacred lifelong friends and family members, most often with machetes and improvised weapons. Announced in 2001, and ending this year, the government put in place the Gacaca Tribunals—open-air hearings with citizen-judges meant to try their neighbors and rebuild the nation. As part of this experiment in reconciliation, confessed genocide killers are sent home from prison, while traumatized survivors are asked to forgive them and resume living side-by-side. Filming for close to a decade in a tiny hamlet, award-winning filmmaker Anne Aghion has charted the impact of Gacaca on survivors and perpetrators alike. Through their fear and anger, accusations and defenses, blurry truths, inconsolable sadness, and hope for life renewed, she captures the emotional journey to coexistence.

Film website: www.myneighbormykiller.com
Newsweek article
Variety review
IFC Blog Review by David Hudson


SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION
Director: Dan Sturman & Bill Guttentag
Section: Cinema de la Plage

SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its powerful music -- the freedom songs protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, in paddy wagons, and in jail cells as they fought for justice and equality. The film features new performances of the freedom songs by top artists, including John Legend, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, and The Roots; riveting archival footage; and interviews with civil rights foot soldiers and leaders, including Congressman John Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Julian Bond, and Ambassador Andrew Young.

The freedom songs evolved from slave chants, from the labor movement, and especially from the black church. The music enabled blacks to sing words they could not say, and it was crucial in helping the protesters as they faced down brutal aggression with dignity and non-violence. The infectious energy of the songs swept people up and empowered them to fight for their rights.

The film had its world premiere at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. 

View trailer here.
Film website: www.soundtrackforarevolutionfilm.com
Variety review

**Film synopses taken from Cannes website