“The Palermo Shooting” stars German punk singer Campino as a photographer from Wenders' hometown of Dusseldorf who, on a visit to Sicily, comes face to face with Death, embodied by Dennis Hopper.
Wenders, whose last international hit was the 1999 homage to traditional Cuban music “Buena Vista Social Club,” packed the haunting soundtrack with his favourite artists including Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Portishead.
“Music is important in my life, you know that,” the man behind 1984 Palme d'Or prize-winning “Paris, Texas” told reporters. “The courage to make a film about this topic and to talk about things that concern us all very deeply... came from listening to rock'n'roll and realizing how all my favourite bands were singing about things that no film tries to touch anymore.”
In the movie, the photographer abandons his life in Germany and becomes the target of a mysterious gunman who hunts him through Palermo's ancient streets. Italian actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno plays a woman who teaches him about the redemptive power of love.
Wenders said he had set the picture in Italy because of the eternal lure of northern Europeans to the south, adding that he had read (Johann Wolfgang von) Goethe's diary of his time in Italy before making the movie.
“It's the classic journey of the German—the journey to Italy,” he said. “For us people from the north, there's always such a desire to go there, and it always seems to us that life is so much fuller there.”
Wenders is a longtime Cannes favourite, also being named best director for Wings of Desire in 1987 and landing the Grand Jury Prize for “Faraway, So Close!” in 1993.
Cannes critics compared the film to an extended music video with philosophical heft after a press preview screening. It will receive its gala premiere later Saturday.
“The Palermo Shooting” is one of 22 films vying for the Palme d'Or, to be awarded Sunday.