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Celebrity culture gone mad in 'Superstar' at Venice fest

01 september 2012, 14:25
0
French film "Superstar" shone a harsh spotlight on celebrity culture at the Venice festival this week with the tale of an ordinary man who overnight finds himself the target of a media frenzy, AFP reports.

One of 18 films vying for this year's Golden Lion prize, Xavier Giannoli's tragi-comic work stars Kad Merad as a hapless Martin who searches in vain for the reason behind his overnight celebrity and in the process discovers himself.

"This character is very different from me," the Algeria-born Merad told AFP in an interview in a garden on the seafront of the Venice Lido.

While his character rejects his newfound celebrity, the 48-year-old actor best known for his 2008 "Welcome to the Sticks" admitted he enjoyed his own.

"Celebrity is a bit of a bonus even though it's a bit complicated. Obviously my job is out of the ordinary and I think celebrity is part of that," he said.

The film starts with Martin being whisked through a hotel into a limo and chased through the streets of Paris at night by paparazzi -- a poignant allusion to the 1997 death of Princess Diana in a similar pursuit.

The plot then moves back in time to the day crowds of people suddenly started asking for his autograph and his picture on a metro train on his way to work, and a journalist played by Cecile de France who takes up his story.

The most poignant moment in the film is Martin's scream of despair during a live television chat show when the obsessive attention reaches its peak. The scream's meaning is lost on viewers and is quickly imitated on social media.

De France's character sees Martin as "a messenger" elected by the people to hold up a mirror to a celebrity-obsessed media world, but her interest fades as his celebrity star wanes and popular opinion quickly turns against him.

For all the seriousness of its intent, the film still manages to draw laughs -- like the obsession with every ordinary detail of celebrity lives or Martin's struggle to explain he is not bidding for a "true reality" show.

Asked about his own attitude towards Internet social networks, Merad said he was cautious.

"I am fascinated by social networks. I have a Facebook page but I don't communicate through them. I just look. I'm a voyeur!"

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