Arab Times

‘Girls of the Sun’ divides Cannes

Kurdish women fighters film sparks row

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CANNES, France, May 13, (Agencies): A harrowing film about Kurdish women fighters taking on Islamic State jihadists sparked a furious row between critics at the Cannes Film Festival Sunday — with some being accused of misogyny.

“Girls of the Sun”, which follows a platoon of Yazidi women battling the extremists who had enslaved them and their children, was premiered at the same time as one person was killed and four others wounded in a knife attack in Paris claimed by IS.

The movie, with Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani as a lawyer who picks up an AK47 to lead the Sun Brigade of survivors, is set in Kurdistan in the days leading up to the Nov 13 Paris terror attacks, in which 130 people died.

The premiere followed a historic protest on the Cannes red carpet by Hollywood stars and female filmmakers demanding equal pay and an end to sexism.

But as the curtain came down, a shouting match erupted at a nearby screening for critics.

A small number who had booed the film were shouted down by others, who accused them of disrespect­ing the film’s female director and cast.

“It’s not about you, dude. Not your time to talk,” one said.

The divide was equally stark in the first reviews published Sunday, with the French magazine Telerama calling the war film “naive and inconseque­ntial”, while others said it was a “disservice to a noble cause”.

But IndieWire’s David Ehrlich said it was impossible not to be moved by it and called it a “surefire Palme (d’Or) contender”, referring to the festival’s top prize.

He conceded that there “was a little too much paprika on the sandwich where none would have done nice, but (French director) Eva Husson is one hell of a filmmaker.”

French producer Claudine Nougaret Depardon took to Twitter to condemn

at 2,537 venues.

“Avengers: Infinity War” set the alltime record for biggest domestic opening weekend with $257.7 million on April 27 to April 29, then fell 56% to $114.8 million on May 4 to May 6. It’s projected to decline only 48% this weekend. Only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($90.2 million), the “misogynous and condescend­ing attitude to this beautiful and courageous film.

Retirement

“Let’s fight to demand the early retirement for these (male) critics,” she added.

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw also rallied to its defence, hailing it as a rousing “feminist war movie: impassione­d, suspensefu­l, angry”.

While admitting that some might find it naive and “unsophisti­cated .... for me it is heartfelt, forthright and muscular.”

But several French critics excoriated Husson’s handling of the story, arguing that some of the women characters were paper thin.

The Hollywood Reporter was also critical of its “narrative histrionic­s and a tear-jerking score worthy of a Walt Disney movie”.

But it praised Husson for “shining a light on an important and terrifying story that made headlines a few years ago but has since been forgotten by many of us.”

Overall, critic Jordan Mintzer called it “a meaty all-female war movie served with an extra slice of cheese.”

Also: CANNES, France:

The new film by Iran’s Jafar Panahi, who is banned from leaving Iran, has premiered to a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, with a seat left symbolical­ly empty for the dissident director.

Panahi’s children and the cast of “Three Faces”, which is vying for the Palme d’Or top prize, were welcomed with thunderous applause as they arrived for the gala screening late Saturday.

The meditative story about the intertwine­d fate of three Iranian women is one of 21 movies in competitio­n at the world’s biggest film festival.

It is the second Iranian work in competitio­n alongside Asghar Farhadi’s

“Avatar” ($68.5 million), and “Black Panther” ($66.3 million) finished above the $60 million domestic mark in their third frames.

Should estimates hold, “Avengers: Infinity War” will wind up the weekend at $546 million — eighth on the all-time domestic list, ahead of the lifetime total of “The Dark “Everybody Knows” starring Spanish star couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

Panahi, 57, was banned from making movies and leaving the country after supporting mass protests in 2009 and making a series of films that critiqued the state of modern Iran.

But the bans have not stopped Panahi from working in secret and his 2015 picture “Taxi” won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival to the consternat­ion of his conservati­ve critics back home.

His new film — starring Panahi himself and veteran actress Behnaz Jafari — puts the spotlight on the social and profession­al problems encountere­d by Iranian women, especially actresses.

LOS ANGELES:

At least three major Chinese companies are competing to board “355,” the spy thriller from Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films that is one of the hottest new projects on the market in Cannes. But for one of these well-establishe­d firms to secure the rights means overcoming a major challenge from a host of cashed-up newcomers.

Simon Kinberg is set to direct the film from a script by Theresa Rebeck, based on an original idea by Chastain. The film is being pitched at the Cannes Film Festival by FilmNation Entertainm­ent and CAA Media Finance Group. Universal picked up the US rights for more than $20 million Saturday. CAA is spearheadi­ng the sale of Chinese rights.

Bona Film Group, Wanda and Huayi Brothers are all looking to become equity investors in the female-driven picture and to secure the distributi­on rights in Greater China, sources say.

The film’s high-concept action genre would appear to give it significan­t appeal in the Middle Kingdom. So, too, does the casting of China’s leading female star, Fan Bingbing, in a significan­t role.

Knight” at $534.9 million. (RTRS)

LOS ANGELES:

TrustNordi­sk has come on board to handle internatio­nal sales on Jens Jonsson’s thriller “The Spy” (Spionen) about Sonja Wigert, Scandinavi­a’s acclaimed actress who turned into a double agent during World War II.

The film was produced by Karin Julsrud, Turid Oversveen and Hakon Overas at 412. “The Spy” toplines a prestigiou­s Nordic cast, including Ingrid Bolso Berdal (“Westworld”), Rolf Lassgard (“A Man Called Ove”), Alexander Scheer (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), Edvin Endre (“Vikings”), Gitte Witt Julsrud (“The Impossible”), Johan Widerberg (“Ocean’s Twelve”), Thomas Arnold (“Thor: The Dark World”), plus Ingrid Vollan and Anders T. Andersen (“Mammon”).

Written by Harald Rosenlow Eeg (“1,000 Times Good Night”) and Jan Trygve Royneland (“Occupied”), the film charts the journey of famed Scandinavi­an actress Wigert who became a spy for Swedish intelligen­ce after her father was imprisoned by the Germans. As she infiltrate­d deeper into the German spy network, threats and rumors about her sympathies began to wear on her and she had to make a fateful decision to save her relationsh­ip with Hungarian diplomatbo­yfriend Andor Gellert.

The film was financed by NFI, NRK, Wallimage, Belgium Fond and Scope Pictures. B-reel co-produced it. (RTRS)

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