Raw youth crime opener at Cannes has France's mood in mind

Wed May 13, 2015 12:02pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Emmanuelle Bercot's "La Tete Haute" (Standing Tall), an unusual opener for the Cannes film festival, is a raw tale of youth crime that echoes the mood of a France still reeling from last January's Paris attacks.

The film about a young delinquent and the judge, counselor and mother who try to steer him straight seems as far from the trademark glamour of the annual Riviera extravaganza as its filming location in the northern French port of Dunkirk.

By contrast, last year's festival opened with a film much closer in many ways to Cannes - "Grace of Monaco".

"La Tete Haute" was due to be screened later on Wednesday.

"Choosing this film for the opening is a response by the Festival to a difficult year in Europe and especially in France," French movie icon Catherine Deneuve told a news conference in reference to the attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket that killed 17 people.

"It may be indeed an echo to the year we have been going through," Deneuve, who plays the judge, added.

"The film is not linked to what happened at the beginning of the year, but I cannot deny that there is a resonance with what happened," said Bercot, the first woman to direct a Cannes opening film since Diane Kurys in 1987.

"The film is about education, it says that education is a fundamental right for the children and that when family cannot ensure that education, it is society's duty to ensure it."   Continued...

Director Emmanuelle Bercot reacts as she poses during a photocall for the film "La tete haute" out of competition before the opening of the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 13, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard