Stars shine spot­light on causes at Cannes

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Nekesa Mumbi Moody

CANNES, France — When Salma Hayek walked the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val red car­pet hold­ing up the sign “Bring Back Our Girls,” the cast of The Ex­pend­ables fol­lowed suit the next night — even if some of them didn’t know what the slo­gan was re­fer­ring to. “I re­mem­ber Vic­tor (Or­tiz) was like, ‘What were those signs?’ and I had to fill him in,” ac­tor Kellan Lutz said of his co-star. Or­tiz, Hayek and oth­ers helped spread the mes­sage, a plea for the re­turn of nearly 300 girls kid­napped in Nigeria by the Is­lamist ex­trem­ist group Boko Haram, by us­ing one of the most fa­mous me­dia events in the world. The “Bring Back Our Girls” cam­paign has be­come a hash­tag on Twit­ter and cham­pi­oned by lu­mi­nar­ies in­clud­ing U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.

Still, it wasn’t the only so­cial mes­sage at Cannes this year. The ac­tors and di­rec­tor of the Turk­ish film Win­ter Sleep held up signs read­ing “Soma,” re­fer­ring to the re­cent Turk­ish min­ing tragedy that killed 301 min­ers. In an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press this week, An­gelina Jolie, known for her ac­tivism, wor­ried that stars pro­mot­ing the “Bring Back Our Girls” cam­paign could back­fire. “We need to not turn the Boko Haram into su­per­stars that get more at­ten­tion for do­ing some­thing so hor­ri­ble,” she said. “We need to go af­ter them, ar­rest them and they need to face jus­tice. “Be­cause at the end of the day, the big­ger pic­ture is this kind of hor­ror hap­pens around the world. Women are fac­ing this kind of abuse, so are men and boys. And the an­swer can­not be sim­ply one sit­u­a­tion and that will solve it.” “I would beg the me­dia, for all of us, to not treat things one at a time,” she added. Other stars were sup­port­ive of us­ing the Cannes stage to pro­mote some­thing more se­ri­ous than films. “It’s a great place. Wher­ever you can let people know that’s wrong,” said ac­tor Chris Tucker. Ac­tor Viggo Mortensen, who held up a flag of his soc­cer team at his Cannes photo call for the movie Jauja, had no prob­lem with other celebri­ties do­ing the same for some­thing weight­ier. “I have no prob­lem speak­ing out when it seems ap­pro­pri­ate or called for — I’ve done it be­fore,” he said. Hayek held up the sign as she walked the red car­pet for her an­i­mated film The Prophet. She said it was not out of char­ac­ter. “I was al­ways in­volved in women’s rights be­fore I was a celebrity,” she said. “But of course (the pre­mière) was a good op­por­tu­nity to use it to con­tinue to put pres­sure on the gov­ern­ments so that they bring back our girls.” Lutz said the Ex­pend­ables cast were handed the signs be­fore they walked the car­pet but he was al­ready sup­port­ive of the cam­paign. “To do it on one of the most watched lo­ca­tions and spots where people in the films are just walk­ing up, and it’s just such an iconic lo­ca­tion im­pacts so much,” he said.

Salma Hayek calls for the re­lease of ab­ducted Nige­rian school­girls.

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