The Lady opens Rome FF. Besson: 'An act of love and commitment'
"It's a film above all for her and her people. An act of love and commitment, which I felt the instinctive, visceral urge to make." With these impassioned words, French director Luc Besson yesterday presented his latest feature film, The Lady [+see also:
film profile], about the political and human adventure of Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi, which officially opened the Rome International Film Festival (October 27-November 4). Alongside the director, those bringing the film out-of-competition to the festival were Michelle Yeoh (the Malaysian diva from Memoires of a Geisha) and Britain's David Thewlis, who plays Aung San Suu Kyi's loving husband, an Oxford professor who constantly supported his wife in her battle before his death in 1998.
More concentrated on the private than on the political dimension of the Noble Peace Prize laureate leader of Burma's Democratic Movement, who returned free after more than 20 years' house arrest on 13 November 2010 - the film, according to the author, aims to understand "how this woman could have chosen to leave her sick husband and her beloved children for the good of her people". The answer lies in a rigorous and moving portrait of a brave, physically slight (Yeoh had to lose five kilos) seemingly fragile woman, with a sweet but determined gaze - "a steel orchid" charged with a mission that goes beyond its remit and for which she is prepared to sacrifice everything to free her people from the oppression of Myanmar's military regime.
The pacifist was finally freed during shooting of the film, which took place in Burma, Bangkok and Oxford: "When we started on the film we didn't think that she would be freed, but we wanted to offer our support," said Besson, "we were never able to meet her, but we tried to tell her story by coming as close to the truth as possible." One of San Suu Kyi's sons saw the film and approved it, but the family did not take part in the script, which was written by Rebecca Frayn over three years, thanks to meetings with key figures in the entourage of Burma's national heroine.
The film, which follows a classic and direct framework and is directed with a sober hand, includes two U2 tracks: "It is my way of paying homage to the work of Bono Vox, who has always been on the front line in defending the Burmese cause," the director explained and, with regards to the possibility of qualifying for an Oscar, added: "Every opportunity to talk about Burma is welcome. The lights must not go out."
Produced by France's EuropaCorp, and a co-production with the UK's Left Bank Pictures and France 2 Cinema, The Lady will be distributed worldwide by EuropaCorp and will be released on November 30 in France, December 1 in Greece and March 15 2012 in Germany.
Photo: Pietro Coccia ©
(Translated from Italian)
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