Seen and heard at the Cannes Film Festival
From left, actor Souleymane Deme, actress Anais Monory and director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun arrive for the screening of Grigris at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
CANNES, France (AP) — Associated Press journalists open their notebooks at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
'GRIGRIS' ENTRY IN CANNES BRINGS PRIDE TO AFRICAN NATION OF CHAD
Director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun stirred up some emotion and national pride when he premiered his new movie "Grigris," at the Cannes Film Festival this week.
The filmmaker, who was born in the troubled Central African republic of Chad, said the film received a 20-minute standing ovation from the festival audience, which included some Chad politicians.
"And I had the official delegation from the government, I had the ministry of culture crying, it was his first time in Cannes, I had also the ambassador of Chad in Paris and he was also crying," Haroun said.
He hopes that the recognition the film is receiving will give a much-needed boost to the African film industry.
"I think this is a kind of new step for the cultural policy in Chad," said Haroun.
"We need to be visible because Africa and African cinema is so invisible in a way and if you don't have cinema theatre in your own country, if you can't show your own production," he added. "It is very important to be in a place like (Cannes) because you can show images of your country to the whole world. And African cinema needs to exist you know."
Set in Chad, the film tells the story of a disabled dancer who clashes with a deadly gangster.
Souleymane Deme takes the lead role of a photographer who is paralyzed in one leg.
Despite his disability he knows how to dance and he entertains.
Deme said his dazzling dancers weren't too hard to devise.
"It was very easy. Haroun simply asked me to dance and I danced. It was I who created the scenes, I developed them, everything that you see on screen is what I brought to the role," he said. "There wasn't any rehearsal, we simply started shooting and I performed. It comes easily to me as well because I have been dancing professionally since I was a young man and I developed all my choreographies for the film."
The film also co-stars Anais Monory, who co-stars in the film as his love interest. The model and actress, who is French, said she was proud to represent her African roots at the festival with the film.
"Chad is a country that people don't think of and when they do it's often in correspondence with war. And so with something like this, something that we can be proud of, it's a victory."