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Controversial topics at the 71st annual Venice Film Festival

Controversial topics at the 71st annual Venice Film Festival
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Over the decades, the Venice Film Festival has earned a reputation for tackling controversial, political and social issues head on… And this year has been no exception.

The Cut

It was foreseeable that German-Turkish director Fatih Akin’s latest film, ‘The Cut’, would cause a stir at the Festival.

The 1915 mass murder of the minority Armenians by the Ottomans is still a hugely controversial subject, particularly in Turkey. Armenia and a number of other states classify these events as genocide.

Akin said the way ‘The Cut’ was made meant that both groups could “identify themselves with the hero of the film.”

“I tried to make a film where the part of the Turkish society who acknowledge the Armenian genocide and those who deny it as a genocide,” Akin said. “Both groups identify themselves with the hero of the film; that was the purpose. And the dream was to reach a third group, which are the Armenians: in Armenia, in Turkey and all over the world… That they also, from the same film, they can grab something that they can identify with. That the film somehow pleased these two completely enemied groups.”

The film stars French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim as an Armenian blacksmith who travels the world in search of his two daughters. He lost touch with them after the outbreak of systematic violence, which would eventually claim the lives of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians.

‘Far From Men’

It was a melting pot of cultures on the red carpet in Venice. Danish-American actor, poet, musician, photographer and painter Viggo Mortensen could be seen alongside Reda Kateb, a French actor with Algerian origins.

The two star in ‘Far From Men’, French director David Oelhoffen’s adaptation of the Albert Camus novel ‘The Guest’.

Set in the 1950s, at the beginning of the Algerian War, the film tells the story of a French former army major (Mortensen) who is now teaching in a remote part of the Atlas Mountains.

He is forced to take a life-or-death desert trek with an Arab villager (Kateb), who has been accused of murder. Their journey together enables them to overcome cultural distrust and they learn to rely on one another. Pursued by vengeful settlers, the two men decide to confront the unknown. Together, they fight to gain their freedom

Mortensen’s rise to fame came in the early 2000s with his role as Aragorn in ‘The Lord of the Rings’. He also won critical acclaim for three films he made with David Cronenberg.

Reda Kateb, who featured in Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ – a film about the killing of Osama Bin Laden – was nominated five times for an Oscar in 2013

‘Far From Men’ is in the official competition at Venice.

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