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Battle in Heaven - New 'sex' film shocks Cannes



Story by: Jack Foley

THE Cannes Film Festival would appear to be a hot-bed for sexually explicit, highly-controversial films.

Last year, it was Michael Winterbottom's Nine Songs that made critics gasp, while in 2005 it was Carlos Reygadas' Mexican film, Battle in Heaven (Batalla en el Cielo).

The film stars Marcos Hernandez and Anapola Mushkadiz as a middle-aged husband and wife who kidnap a baby for ransom money, only to find their plan going tragically wrong when the child dies.

Tortured by the tragedy, Marcos, a chauffeur to a general, decides to confess to his boss's daughter, Ana, who prostitutes herself for fun.

Propelled by his guilt and confusion, Marcos' world descends into a downward spiral...

It's not so much the subject matter that has got tongues wagging, but rather some of the content, given its sexually explicit nature.

The husband and wife in question are an average-looking, even overweight couple, whose graphic sex scenes have been labelled by some journalists who saw the film as borderline pornographic.

The opening scene, for instance, finds a teenage girl performs fellatio on the overweight husband.

While he later gets intimate with the attractive but troubled daughter of his boss, played by Ana Mushkadiz.

The film drew boos and whistles in certain quarters, while Reygadas was put on the spot at a press conference held after the screening.

Defending the content, however, the director said that it was meant as a realistic depiction of everyday life in Mexico, where kidnapping is rife and sex plays an integral part of everyone's life.

He denied that the film was pornographic, insisting that the purpose of pornography was to titilate, whereas this was 'to create a sense that this goes much further than simple sex'.

And he argued that he had chosen untried actors for most of the roles to heighten the realism, given that 'most people look more like them than the beautiful people you see in advertisements'.

"The whole world is involved in sex," continued Reygadas. "Things happen when people make love. That's what this film is about. It's how we relate to it."

The film was submitted in competition as one of 23 new releases vying to win the prestigious Palme d'Or.

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