Rome Film Festival: Luc Besson's 'The Lady' Opens Show
ROME – The International Rome Film Festival got underway Thursday with a well-received screening of Luc Besson’s The Lady opening the show a day ahead of the start of the screenings from the 15 films in competition for the festival’s prestigious Marcus Arelius award.
The Lady, a biography of Burmese democracy activist and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, represented one of the most high profile openings for the six-year-old event, with Besson and actress Michelle Yeoh, who played Suu Kyi, charming the red carpet crowd. Suu Kyi herself issued a statement for the Italian premiere of the film, praising the importance of “truth, justice and solidarity.”
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Earlier in the day, Besson said the film was among the highlights of his career, which so far is best known for The Fifth Element and Leon.
“After I read this script, I cried and I cancelled all my engagements for the next 18 months to be sure the project would not go to any other director,” Besson said at the festival’s opening day press conference.
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At the same briefing, Yeoh explained the effort she put into playing the role of Suu Kyi: she said she lost 12 pounds to more closely resemble Suu Kyi’s thin frame, and she studied Burmese and studied old films to learn to walk the way Suu Kyi walks. She also said that she was prevented from entering Burma because of the controversy that swirled around the project.
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In a statement she made for the Rome festival, Suu Kyi said "concepts such as truth, justice and solidarity cannot be cast off as obsolete, when these are often the only bastions that stand between us and the brutality of power."
The main competition will kick off Friday, with the screenings of three of competition films.
The festival runs through Nov. 4.