WBEZ film contributor Milos Stehlik joins Worldview from the south of France with updates from the 70th Cannes International Film festival.
Loveless from director Andrey Zvyagintsev
Stehlik calls this film “a very cynical portrait of contemporary Russia” told through a personal story about divorce.
Milos Stehlik: It’s the story of a couple who are starting to go through a divorce. And the situation which you see in the first five minutes is the couple is talking about selling their apartment — that’s part of the split. They have a 12-year-old son. The mother does not want to keep the son — neither does the father — because both of them are in different relationships by now. So they’re talking about sending the son to boarding school, then he’ll go to the army — you know, “Good riddance, son.” He overhears this and the son disappears. And then we get this slow, wonderful and really spine-tingling way that (the director) takes apart both the relationship and what people are capable of doing to each other when there is no love present in a relationship.
The Venerable W. from director Barbet Schroeder
The final film in what director Barbet Schroeder calls his “Trilogy of Evil” — the first two installments were documentaries about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and French attorney Jacques Vergès, who defended several of the 20th century’s biggest villains. The Venerable W. looks at a living Burmese Buddhist monk, Ashin Wirathu, whose rhetoric has helped propel an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Muslim minority in Myanmar known as the Rohingya. Stehlik calls the film “quite shocking.”
Stehlik: On the one hand, it gives you an enormous portrait of what can happen once a zealot gains power and is able to manipulate the population. On the other hand, even though this is so specific, you could really export it to many, many other situations — anyplace where this kind of a fascist genocide against a common people takes hold.
A Man of Integrity from director Mohammad Rasoulof
This film follows a poor farmer of goldfish, “which are a very important symbol of happiness in Iran,” Stehlik says. The farmer, a “man of integrity,” is the lone figure willing to pursue justice against a powerful corporation via legal means. Stehlik says the film “plays out like an incredible tragedy.”
Stehlik: How Mohammad Rasoulof made this film is an incredible miracle, because he shot it clandestinely without the government knowing it in the north of Iran. He was caught — or arrested, together with (collaborator) Jafar Panahi I think it was almost ten years ago now — for making a film about the green revolution. Since then, he’s been prohibited from working. He has been sentenced to jail — the sentence was never executed. … He went back to make not only this film but before this a film called Goodbye, which talks about the position of women in Iran, a really great film called Manuscripts Don’t Burn, a couple of years ago, which is about the persecution of writers in Iran. And then this film plays out like an incredible tragedy.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Press the “play” button above to hear the entire segment.