Popular Cannes film reflects "Arab Spring" spirit

Sat May 21, 2011 9:39am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - A film about a woman taking a stand against men in a North African village won cheers in Cannes Saturday, with some viewers moved by its expression of the spirit of the "Arab Spring" uprisings.

A small handful of critics also booed during the packed screening of "The Source," directed by Radu Mihaileanu, later telling journalists they found its depiction of Arab life over simplistic.

But the overwhelming majority of critics in the audience praised its resonance with real-life events, saying they would not be surprised to see it scoop a big prize at the annual film festival.

The Source was the last of 20 films shown in the festival's main competition ahead of the closing ceremony Sunday where the awards will be announced including the Palme d'Or for best picture.

Also premiered Saturday was "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia," a slow-paced, subtle examination of cruelty and betrayal by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

The Source opens by declaring itself a fairytale in which Leila, the beautiful and feisty wife of teacher Sami, declares a "love strike," or ban on all sex, until the men in her village agree to carry the water from a spring high in the mountains.

In a time of economic hardship and unemployment, men sit and sip tea all day while women lug heavy loads up steep paths.

Leila decides to take a stand when her friend falls and loses her baby.   Continued...

<p>Director Radu Mihaileanu (3rd R) and cast members (L - R) Hiam Abbas, Hafsia Herzi, Leila Bekhti, Sabrina Ouazani and Biyouna pose during a photocall for the film "La Source des Femmes", in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 21, 2011. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler</p>