Venice film fest puts hard-hitting global issues on screen

Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:21pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

VENICE (Reuters) - The Venice Film Festival has earned a reputation over the decades for tackling controversial political and social issues head on, and this year has been no exception.

German-born Turkish director Fatih Akin's "The Cut", shown on Sunday, is a harrowing fictionalized look at the destruction of the Armenian community in Ottoman Turkey during World War One which historians and Armenians say was genocide.

Turkey denies this and says the widely cited death toll of 1.5 million people is inflated.

Akin acknowledged at a news conference that he'd received hate mail about the film and even a death threat on Twitter, but said "please don't make too much out of that".

"The film that Fatih made is the film that the Armenians have been waiting for. Everybody always says,'When are we making a film, a film about the Armenian genocide?'," Simon Abkarian, one of the actors in the film, said at a press conference.

"It took time. The first generation had to survive, the second generation had to live and the third generation had to react and claim what we had to claim, which is the recognition of the genocide, most of it. And I think that one film is never enough to tell such a story, we have to make more."

Other festival films include a documentary , "The Look of Silence", about massacres in Indonesia in the mid-1960s where death squads killed as many as 1.5 million people in purges following a failed communist coup.

"Loin des Hommes" (Far from Men) is set at the beginning of the Algerian war against French colonial rule in the 1950s and stars Viggo Mortensen as a former major in the French army who is teaching in a school in a remote part of the Atlas Mountains.   Continued...

Actors Reda Kateb (R) and Viggo Mortensen (L) pose with director David Oelhoffen during the photo call for the movie "Loin des hommes" at the 71st Venice Film Festival August 31, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile