Friday, 28 May 2010

Cannes Film Festival Prize Winning Film 'Of Gods and Men'

Claire Bergin reports from the Cannes Film Festival about the film 'Of Gods and Men' - a drama about Catholic Cisterian monks caught up in Algeria’s Islamist violence, directed by French film-maker Xavier Beauvois. It has won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival. The film has also received the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.

The film was acclaimed by critics and had audiences in tears. Starring Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale, it tells the true story of a monastery in Algeria which after years of caring for local Muslims was threatened by war between militants and the army in the 1990s. Seven Trappist monks in Tibiherine, northern Algeria, were beheaded in 1996, during Algeria’s eight-year civil war between government forces and Islamists.

It also touches on the sensitive issue of France’s history in north Africa, with one Algerian character explicitly blaming colonialists for the social problems which he says gave rise to Islamic extremism in the country. The drama in 'Of Gods And Men' centres on the monks’ painful moral choice of whether to flee as danger threatens, or stay to support the local people.

"It is rare these days in our selfish society that there are people who care for others, who pay attention to the religion of others," Xavier Beauvois told journalists. He praised the "faith and rigour" of the religious. "If society had just five percent of people like them, things would be better."

The picture above shows Lambert Wilson in a scene from Of Gods and Men

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