Rock 'n' roll nostalgia is sure seller at Cannes

The smoky whiff of rock 'n' roll nostalgia hangs in the air at Cannes, where films about The Rolling Stones and other stars make music one of the movie festival's most bankable commodities.

British rocker Mick Jagger strutted into town Wednesday to plug "Stones in Exile", a new documentary based on archive footage of the recording of the band's classic album "Exile On Main Street" in 1971.

Meanwhile US director Martin Scorsese, who appeared on the red carpet here last week, is making a film about the late Beatles guitarist George Harrison, top movie magazine Screen reported.

The film is "a labour of love", it quoted the 67-year-old director as saying. "I've been a great admirer of his music for years, I was interested in the voyage that he took as an artist.

Scorsese's picture will use old footage plus interviews with band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the report said - the same formula used by the Stones film.

"The intoxicating blend of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll never spoils, particularly if it's of an early '70s vintage," wrote film industry reporter Steve Chagollan in Variety magazine, referring to the Stones film.

"And it never hurts to use film and TV to sell it, particularly if the film makes its debut at Cannes," he wrote, adding that it was "perhaps the first time a film commissioned as a promotional tool will be screened" in Directors' Fortnight".

"Stones In Exile" coincides with the re-release this month of the original double-disc album, which was climbing up towards the top of the British music charts as Jagger entertained the crowds in Cannes.

Jagger appears on the film joking about the nostalgic way it aims to revive interest in the album.

He hired film-maker Stephen Kijak to scour the band's archives and put the movie together, overlaying footage of sessions and concerts with album tracks such as "Tumbling Dice".

"To just do a record isn't enough," he said at the screening. "You need to see something of the period."

Elsewhere in the world of rock, Vision Music, which specialises in distributing music-themed films, was at the film market in Cannes peddling a new work about Lemmy, the grizzled frontman of heavy metal group Motorhead.

Independent film-makers Lionel Guedj and Stephane Bebert were also looking to sell their punk documentary "Rock 'n' Roll... Of Corse!", about a lower-profile musician, Henry Padovani of The Police.

A more unusual music story is vying for a prize at Cannes meanwhile: "Benda Bilili", a French-made film about wheelchair-bound Congolese street musicians who take on Europe.

The cast of the film and French film-makers Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye drew loud applause when they appeared at its screening.

Their film features in the prestigious Cannes side-festival Directors' Fortnight, along with the Stones documentary, which was launched here but is not competing.

"The docu should play especially well at fests and Euro art houses," the film industry bible Variety magazine said of "Benda Bilili".

"It's... hard not to get swept away by the concert footage."

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