Realist film tradition still thrives at Cannes

Tue May 19, 2009 5:56pm EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - A young man teaches music to a group of Iranian children, an Aboriginal boy in central Australia sniffs glue, a bored group of soldiers hang about smoking until a busload of prisoners arrives to be shot.

Alongside the glamour of the red carpet and avant garde experimentation, social realist cinema has had a special place at the Cannes film festival ever since Roberto Rossellini's neo-realist classic "Rome Open City" was shown in 1946.

Several pictures this year maintain the tradition and take an unsparing look at the contemporary world.

"No one Knows about Persian Cats" by Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi, is one of the more talked-about entries in the "Un Certain Regard" section.

Described as "documentary-fiction," the film looks at the underground music scene to illustrate some of the wider restrictions in contemporary Iranian society.

"The music movement is a huge thing and at the same time, music is forbidden in Iran; particularly women singing," Ghobadi told Reuters.

"I like music, and I like underground music. That's why I did it. I wanted to give a picture of what is happening in music," he said.

Ghobadi could risk imprisonment by presenting the film but he brushed aside any concerns about how the authorities at home might react.   Continued...

<p>Director Bahman Ghobadi poses during a photocall for the film "Kasi Az Gorbehaye Irani Khabar Nadareh" at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 15, 2009. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>