Madonna makes Cannes debut as filmmaker
Madonna made her debut as a movie maker at the Cannes Film Festival tonight Wednesday with a red-carpet screening of her documentary about the plight of the 1 million children in Malawi who have been made orphans after losing their parents to AIDS. While Madonna did not appear in Filth and Wisdom, her directing debut which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February, she wrote, narrated, produced and enlisted first-time direction by Nathan Rissman to make the documentary I Am Because We Are.
The black-tie Cannes audience gave a warm reception to the movie with Madonna also attending the screening of the documentary at the world’s leading film festival.
She told the invited guests, which included Hollywood star Sharon Stone, that I Am Because We Are represented “a journey of lifetime; a journey that was continuing.”
The documentary begins with Madonna saying: “People always ask me why I chose Malawi. I didn’t. It chose me.”
The movie also touches on Madonna’s adoption in 2006 of a child from Malawi, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 60 per cent of its 13 million citizens live on less than a dollar a day.
The adoption sparked controversy with claims that the official papers had been processed with unusual haste and the boy’s biological father later saying he did understand what adoption meant.
I Am Because We Are, which is derived from a remark by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town, premiered last month at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Apart from prominent Malawian activists and Tutu, the Madonna documentary also includes interviews with former US President Bill Clinton, American third world economist Jeffrey Sachs and medical anthropologist Paul Farmer.
But it is the often harrowing stories told by many of the children and the sometimes horrific lives they lead that are the most powerful part of the movie.
The 90-minute film also shows the efforts by Madonna’s charitable organisation Raising Malawi to help improve the lives and conditions of children in Malawi, many of whom have ended up the streets after their parents or other family members have fallen victim to AIDS and HIV.