‘Gagarine’ shows pain of losing home

“Gagarine” screened at the Cannes Market on a virtual platform from June 22-26. Supplied
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Updated 27 June 2020

‘Gagarine’ shows pain of losing home

CHENNAI: A home is not just bricks and mortar but a place where memories are made — of one’s childhood, one’s joys, and yes, sometimes one’s sorrows.

One of 56 official titles selected by the Cannes Film Festival, which was canceled this year because of the coronavirus, was “Gagarine,” screened at the Cannes Market on a virtual platform from June 22-26.

Directed by debutant Fanny Liatard and Jeremy Trouilh, “Gagarine” is a bittersweet French story of a housing complex on the outskirts of Paris. Inaugurated and named after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the complex is found to be in a state of disrepair and faces demolition.




“Gagarine” is a bittersweet French story of a housing complex on the outskirts of Paris. Supplied

But 16-year-old black teen Yuri (played charismatically by newcomer Alseni Bathily) refuses to leave. He has nowhere to go after his mother abandoned him. Yuri (probably named after the cosmonaut) is a good handyman, and with two friends, Houssam (Jamil McCraven) and Diana (Lyna Khoudri), tries to carry out repairs with secondhand materials before the inspection. He fails, but is inspired to recreate a spaceship in the building’s basement. Passionate about astronomy, he also has a telescope and great imagination to rebuild his place as a sci-fi model.

“Gagarine” is an apt commentary – a fictionalized account of a real incident – on how marginalized communities live on hope, struggling to survive against tremendous odds.




“Gagarine” is an apt commentary – a fictionalized account of a real incident – on how marginalized communities live on hope. Supplied

In many ways Yuri seems to embody the spirit of the community and the complex, and we see the beginnings of the boy’s passion for space when the directors include archival footage of Yuri Gagarin visiting the complex to the cheering of crowds, many of whom have been lifted from a miserable existence to live in the sky-high building.

There are lovely movements in the movie, in which the real and unreal merge, lending themselves into a “cockpit” romance between Yuri and Diana, where she finally notices life-saving Morse Code messages from him that she herself had once taught him.

Together with a superb score by composers Evgueni and Sacha Galperine, and Amine Bouhafa, “Gagarine” presents a hauntingly memorable picture of how the loss of a home sometimes be so traumatic. Had the festival not been sidelined by the coronavirus, “Gagarine” would have certainly created a lot of buzz.


Johnny Depp denies ‘wife-beater’ claim in London libel trial

Updated 12 min 6 sec ago

Johnny Depp denies ‘wife-beater’ claim in London libel trial

  • The high-profile case has laid bare Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s turbulent relationship, which ended in divorce in 2017
  • The couple first met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary” and married in 2015

LONDON: Hollywood actor Johnny Depp strenuously denied being violent to his ex-wife Amber Heard, as he launched a libel claim in a London court on Tuesday against a British tabloid newspaper that called him a “wife-beater.”
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star, 57, is suing the publishers of The Sun and the author of the article for the claims, which were made in April 2018.
Depp, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and facemask, was met by a throng of cameras as he arrived at court while Heard, a 34-year-old actress, used a separate entrance.
The high-profile case has laid bare the couple’s turbulent relationship, which ended in divorce in 2017, just two years after they married.
But Depp said in a witness statement submitted to the court: “For the avoidance of any doubt, I have never abused Ms Heard, or, indeed any other woman, in my life.”
He said it was a “strong and central part” of his moral code that he would never hit a woman, having witnessed domestic violence growing up and vowed never to do so.
“I find it simply inconceivable and it would never happen,” he added.
“She (Heard) is a calculating, diagnosed borderline personality; she is sociopathic; she is a narcissist; and she is completely emotionally dishonest,” he went on.
“I am now convinced that she came into my life to take from me anything worth taking, and then destroy what remained of it.
The couple first met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary” and married in 2015.
News Group Newspapers (NGN) is contesting the case, and is relying for its defense on 14 separate claims of domestic violence said to have occurred between early 2013 and May 2016.
It argues Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive toward Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs” — and has evidence to prove it.
But Depp said it was the other way round, accusing Heard of violence against him during their “unhappy” time together.
In one alleged incident, he said she repeatedly punched him in the face, and in another severed his finger with a flying vodka bottle and stubbed out a cigarette on his cheek.
Heard has claimed she was physically assaulted over three days in Australia in early 2015 but Depp called the allegations “sick... and completely untrue.”
He rejected claims of being overbearing and instead said Heard had an “obsessive need” to control him, encouraging him to drink and take drugs, despite his well-known addiction issues.
Depp’s lawyers, in a written outline of his case to the court, also argued that although the couple’s relationship was at times “physical,” it was at Heard’s instigation.
Lawyer David Sherborne said his client on occasions had to defend himself from Heard’s violence, calling her allegations “complete lies.”
“He is not a wife-beater and never has been,” he said.
Heard was a “complex individual,” whose behavior was “extremely unpredictable,” with violent rages and prone to extreme mood swings, he added.
She sought attention, was provocative, had affairs, and was on a “wide range” of prescribed medication and other drugs.
Depp loved her but found her behavior “often bewildering” and “very difficult” to understand or deal with, he added.
Depp was the first witness called in the case and under cross-examination admitted using drugs and alcohol from a young age to “numb the pain” of a difficult childhood.
But he rejected suggestions from NGN lawyer Sasha Wass he had a “nasty side,” that saw him turn into a “monster” who would lose control, smash up hotel rooms and assault photographers.
“It wasn’t Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde,” he insisted.
The Sun story — “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beast film?” — came after he had already publicly denied domestic violence.
Depp said he had suffered “significant reputational damage” as a result, both in terms of his career and personally.
The High Court trial is due to last three weeks.