February 13, 2008 / 7:09 PM / 10 years ago

She sings, she acts and now Madonna directs films

BERLIN (Reuters) - Madonna can sing, her acting has been hit and miss, and now the question is, can she direct?

<p>Pop star Madonna signs autographs after a news conference to present her film 'Filth and Wisdom' running at the 58th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 13, 2008. The 58th Berlinale, one of the world's most prestigious film festivals, runs from February 7 to 17 in the German capital. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz</p>

Confidence is certainly no barrier. In production notes for the pop queen’s first feature film behind the camera, “Filth & Wisdom,” the 49-year-old said she was aiming high.

“I have always been inspired by the films of Goddard, Visconti, Passolini and Fellini and hope that I may one day make something that comes close to their genius,” she wrote in a statement, listing four great film makers and misspelling two.

Her 81-minute first feature is unlikely to be hailed as a classic. However, many journalists who saw it at the Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday before a world premiere gala screening said it was better than they expected.

The light-hearted, fast-paced story of three flatmates seeking fame and fulfillment, each reflecting aspects of Madonna’s own life, is also unlikely to be her last.

“It’s definitely not a one-off,” Madonna told Reuters Television in an interview.

She told a packed news conference later she might release “Filth & Wisdom” on the Internet and planned to unveil a documentary about Malawi at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

“Filth & Wisdom” is certain to draw comparisons with the work of director husband Guy Ritchie. Asked in the interview if she sought his advice during the shooting, she replied:

“Not the editing so much but definitely before I started filming ... He said ‘confidence, that’s the most important thing that you need to exude on a set, confidence.”’

PERSONAL STRUGGLE

<p>Pop star Madonna poses during a photocall to present the film 'Filth and Wisdom' running at the 58th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 13, 2008. The 58th Berlinale, one of the world's most prestigious film festivals, runs from February 7 to 17 in the German capital. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>

“Filth & Wisdom” follows narrator “A.K.,” a Ukrainian immigrant and self-proclaimed philosopher and poet, as he strives for superstardom with his gypsy punk band.

He is played by Eugene Hutz, member of real-life band Gogol Bordello, and the group’s music features on the soundtrack. Madonna’s “Erotica” and Britney Spears’s “Baby One More Time” are also used.

To help make ends meet A.K. doubles as a cross-dresser, fulfilling clients’ fantasies by donning costumes including that of a teacher and a dressage rider.

He shares an apartment with Holly, a trained ballerina who reluctantly takes on a new job as a pole dancer, and Juliette, who longs to help children in Africa.

<p>Madonna arrives for the screening of her film 'Filth and Wisdom' at the 58th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 13, 2008. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele</p>

The parallels with Madonna’s own life are clear. As well as becoming one of the most successful singers of all time, she has taken on charity work for children in Africa and is in the process of adopting a boy from Malawi.

“One of the themes that I explore in the film is struggle,” said Madonna, wearing a black dress and ultra-high heels.

“If I look back to the beginning of the career I can recall those moments of struggle like it was yesterday,” she told the news conference where she was asked about happiness, erotica and whether she planned to perform in Montenegro.

”I think from the outside it probably seems that I could relate to Holly the most, because I grew up wanting to be a dancer and training for years.

”The cold, harsh reality when I arrived in New York (was) to find that there were thousands of other girls wanting to do the same thing and that I wasn’t so special after all.

“Although I didn’t resort to pole dancing. I did other things.”

Large crowds gathered outside the news conference venue and main cinema to catch a glimpse of the superstar, who follows the Rolling Stones and Patti Smith down the red carpet at a music-heavy Berlin Film Festival.

To read more about our entertainment news, visit our blog "Fan Fare" online at blogs.reuters.com/fanfare/

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