cannes film festival.jpg

Every year a theme runs through the Cannes Film Festival. One year it was the number of dogs in the films, another year it was the number of people using the toilet.

This year cannibalism is all the rage.

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn has also spiced things up with a bit of necrophilia in The Neon Demon, his new film about the bitchy meat market of the Los Angeles fashion scene.

"It's a teen horror movie for teenagers," Refn told a press conference on Friday marking the premiere of the film, which is one of 21 movies vying for top honours in Cannes, including the Palme d'Or for best picture.

"The idea is about the obsession with beauty," said the 45-year-old Refn, who describes himself as the sex pistol of film. "Baby, we're search and destroy," he added, in reference to tune by the Sex Pistols.

The Neon Demon is based around the character of a 16-year-old from small-town America, who sets out on a modelling career in the City of Angels, and is literally devoured by her rivals at the end of the film.

"It's sex and violence; its primeval," said Refn. "It's intended to penetrate your mind. I think there is something very terrifying that the world can only be about beauty."

Among the other batch of films where the characters develop a taste for each other was Slack Bay from French director Bruno Dumont, a slapstick comedy mixed in with a hefty amount of black humour about a cannibal family living on the marshy north coast of France in 1910.

"We are both: cannibals and philistines," Dumont told dpa.

Then there was Raw from another French director Julia Ducournau that told the tale of a vegetarian in her first year at a veterinarian school where she is forced to eat raw meat as part of her induction as a student.

South Korea's Sang-ho Yeon's Train to Busan is about passengers on a train struggling to survive after a mysterious viral outbreak in the nation.

Soundly booed at its press screening Friday, the Neon Demon stars 18-year-old Elle Fanning who plays Jesse, a girl who seemingly has only one pal in the film, Ruby, a makeup artist and who moonlights in a mortuary. Unhappy that Jesse refuses to have sex with her, Ruby turns to necrophilia instead.

"It's the darkest role that I have done," said Fanning, who still lives with her parents and is trying to finish high school in the United States. She's been in films since she was two.

"What you are seeing is that death and beauty has become one," Refn said in his defence. "There is something beautiful about sexualizing everything."

Refn was inspired to make his film after he met Fanning, who was 16 at the time. He realized, he said, "I could live my perverse dream of being a 16-year-old girl, which is what every man has inside him."

"You are me," Refn said he told Fanning. "Would you like to make a movie with me?"

A film greeted with boos but somehow containing no acts of cannibalism was The Last Face from former Cannes jury president and two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn.

Penn's movie, which also premiered on Friday, tells the story of a love affair between a relief-aid doctor played by Spain's Javier Bardem and the director of an international aid organization in war-torn Liberia. Charlize Theron plays an aid organization director.

"The question of love and war ... seem to blend," Penn told a press conference for the Cannes premiere of the film, his fifth movie as director since his 2007 hit Into the Wild.

When asked at the press conference about the mixed reaction to The Last Face, Penn replied: "I stand behind the film as it is. Everybody is going to be entitled to their response."

Latest news

S Africa opposition sues government for not arresting Sudan president

South Africa’s main opposition party Friday filed criminal charges against several government and police officials for failing in 2015 to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Project Slavonia one of key government goals, PM says

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Friday opened the 22nd international fair of the economy, trades and crafts and agriculture Viroexpo 2017, saying it fit into one of the government's key goals, work on Project Slavonia.

Germany says Russia plan for Reichstag replica 'speaks for itself'

A Russian plan to construct a replica of the Reichstag so that military enthusiasts can re-enact the Red Army's 1945 capture of Berlin is "surprising and speaks for itself," a German government spokeswoman said Friday.

Transport minister does not rule out higher motorway tolls

Commenting on a planned rise in tolls for motorways managed by the state-run HAC motorway operator, Maritime, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butkovic on Friday recalled that HAC's debt totalled EUR 5.2 billion, and 1.2 billion of that amount was due this year, which HAC could not pay back from its revenues.

Proposal to give advantage to jobseekers who served in army slammed

Labour and Pension System Minister Tomislav Coric said on Friday the proposal by HVIDRA veterans association president Josip Djakic, that persons who served in the army should be given preferential treatment while seeking for jobs in the state administration and state-owned companies, was not good.

Film directors, producers pleased with meeting with presidential advisers

Representatives of the Croatian Film Directors’ Guild and the Croatian Producers Association said on Friday they were pleased with today's meeting at the president's office, where they discussed the current developments with the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) with two presidential advisers.

German foreign minister: Positive Trump comment on EU is 'good news'

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomes US President Donald Trump's recent positive comments on the European Union, calling them "good news," during a press conference Friday.

South African police disperse anti-migrant rally

South African police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse anti-immigration demonstrators and their opponents in the country’s administrative capital of Pretoria, local media reported Friday.

Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian reporters back striking Macedonian colleagues

Trade unions of journalists from Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia on Friday expressed their support to their Macedonian colleagues working for three daily newspapers owned by Media Print Makedonija (MPM) who have been on strike since mid-February over unpaid salaries and contributions and the management's failure to provide them with information about plans for the company's survival.

Hribar's statements prompt HRT Supervisory Board to demand human rights' protection

The Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) Programming Council is scheduled to convene on Tuesday, 28 February, to discuss, among other things, "the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms in HRT programmes" as requested by the national broadcaster's Supervisory Board.

Iraq launches its first airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria

Iraq launched its first airstrikes against Islamic State targets inside Syria on Friday, retaliation for recent deadly attacks by the extremist militia in Baghdad, the Iraqi army said.

SDP urges gov't to put situation in Bosnia on EU and NATO agendas

Croatia's largest opposition party has called on the government to put the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the EU and NATO agendas saying that reactions by some political groups in that country to the submission of the motion to the ICJ to review its ruling against Serbia could lead to serious political instability and threaten the functioning of the state.