What is more fascinating than making a digital film documenting about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll set in Manchester between 1976 and 1992? This year at Cannes, English filmmaker Michael Winterbottom -- maker of Welcome to Sarajevo (1997) and The Claim (2000) -- presents a slick, colorful, music-laden film on just such a topic.
Shot entirely on digital video, 24 Hour Party People concentrates on the Manchester club scene, notably The Hacienda, and the rise and fall of one of the city's most important record labels, Factory.
The movie stars and is narrated by Tony Wilson (played in the film by Steve Coogan), Granada-TV presenter, pygmalion of the local music scene and creator of Factory records. Winterbottom's camera follows Wilson through the rise of influential bands such as Sex Pistols, Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays. Later, with the boom of club culture, the film turns its focus to the Ecstasy scene.
Like the film itself, the press conference for 24 Hour Party People (a song by Happy Mondays) was loud and brash. Swearing and laugher filled the press room, the mood set by Tony Wilson himself.
Since Margaret Thatcher, the culture of England has been dull, said scriptwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce who was among the first movers in the creation of the film. "Thanks to Tony Wilson and Factory records, my youth was filled with big fun and colors. This script is my way of repaying him," said Boyce.
"Because the film celebrates the achievement of Factory, we put the emphasis on fun and told the story in a mythic style, rather than making it truthful or faithful," he added.
"He wanted to shoot the real people, with the real music, but with a fictionalized storyline," said prolific director Winterbottom, who seemed a bit reserved talking about this film.
For example, Wilson claimed the blow job scene in the film is completely untrue.
Although Wilson complained that he had not been informed early enough about the making of the film, he added that it was flattering to have Coogan playing him in the film.
At the press conference, this energetic, eloquent man behind the Factory and Hacienda legend acted like he was serving as the TV host, instead of being a guest in Cannes. "Ecstasy dance culture, which should have died out few years back, will soon be gone. And we will be signing some new young bands to sell to you fuckers," he said.