Cannes films eye "robbery" behind banking crisis

Wed May 19, 2010 4:27am EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - A devastating picture of a corrupt system out of control emerges from two documentaries on the financial crisis that coincide with Oliver Stone's return to a fictional Wall Street at the Cannes film festival.

"Inside Job", directed by Charles Ferguson and "Cleveland versus Wall Street", by Swiss-born director Jean-Stephane Bron, both provide a meticulous dissection of a disaster that brought the global banking system to its knees.

Stripping down a hugely complex series of events, the films distil a simple message from their examination of the speculative frenzy that linked suburban American home buyers, complacent officials and irresponsible global financiers.

"This was a bank robbery but it was a robbery committed by the president of the bank, not by some random guy who walks in with a gun," Ferguson told Reuters in an interview.

"This was a crime committed by people who ran the financial system," he said. "We let these people run amok and they crashed the system."

Wall Street's most illustrious names are now caught up in a public relations battle to save their reputations from the tide of popular wrath against the sector, which they say is often unfair and ill-informed.

But with Stone's old villain Gordon Gekko also stalking the Croisette in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps", the growing mood of public anger has clearly spread to the world's biggest film festival.

"I think the bankers should be in jail, but it doesn't happen that way, does it?" Stone told Reuters in an interview after his film was shown out of competition.   Continued...