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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 14:06 GMT
Madonna on her directing debut
By Emma Jones
BBC News, Berlin

Madonna
Madonna admitted she was nervous showing her film

Mention the words Madonna and movie in the same sentence and a snigger invariably follows.

If you happen to be a film journalist, you might even roll your eyes.

Strange, then, that about 500 reporters hurled themselves at one small door at the Berlin Film Festival, behind which the singer gave a press conference about her directing debut, Filth and Wisdom.

Camped out since lunch time, the shouting, heaving crowd of critics were determined to see the Queen of Pop - whatever they thought of her movie.

When she arrived, looking small and dainty with the air of Marie Antoinette facing down her executioners, there was a huge round of a applause for the 49-year-old.

"You are in your 50th year, but you look 21," said one male admirer breathlessly.

"That's because you're not close enough," was the star's dry reply.

And that was Madonna during the press conference - funny, forthright and at times downright flirty.

'Struggle'

One of the singer's own songs, her 1992 single Erotica, was included on the film's soundtrack.

When asked by a Scandinavian reporter if her opinion of what was erotic had changed since her wedding, she said: "Come see me when you're married."

Vicky McClure, Eugene Hutz, Madonna and Holly Weston
The film is about three flatmates struggling to find fulfilment

The conference director would often move things on if he thought a question was too personal, but I have never seen Madonna share more of herself than she did in that half hour.

And, whatever has been written about the movie, Madonna has put a lot of herself in it.

It deals with the struggle of three London flatmates - a male prostitute, a pole dancer and a pharmacy assistant - to find fulfilment.

"I relate to their struggle. I can remember it clearly when I was starting out," she said.

"Not that I was ever a pole dancer," she added hastily.

"I like unconventional. I was raised in the Mid-West and I never really felt like I belonged."

When asked what her idea of happiness had been 30 years ago and what it would be now, she praised her inquisitor for asking "a good question".

"Thirty years ago it would have been to be able to feed myself, put food on the table and find my voice in the world," she said.

"Now my idea of happiness is being grateful that I am still able to do all those things," she added.

'Butterflies'

Guy Ritchie and Madonna
He's been really supportive
Madonna on her husband director Guy Ritchie

Madonna got her film to Berlin in characteristic fashion, by writing a postcard to festival director Dieter Kosslick, asking him to show her film "if he liked it".

"I am here as a first time film-director," she announced to the conference. "That's all I am today."

Unfortunately for Madonna, she will not be treated that way.

Her celebrity may have got her a red carpet premiere, but she will be judged on that celebrity, too.

No wonder that, when she arrived at the premiere, she looked nervous.

While it is usually the press who feel trepidation at tackling Madonna, she admitted it was her turn to have "butterflies in my stomach".

"But the reception from Berlin has been more than I could ask for, " she told me.

"I'm chuffed, as they say."

Next project

On the red carpet, reporters normally get one or two questions with the superstars, but Madonna seemed willing to linger and chat - as long as it was about the film.

"I want to carry on as a film director," she said.

She revealed her next project is a documentary about Malawi which will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

Madonna
Reporters camped out for hours to see the star

When asked if she was now in competition with her husband, British director Guy Ritchie, she said: "No, he's been really supportive."

She also revealed she would not be reading what the critics write about the film, choosing instead to rely on what her manager tells her.

It is not clear whether she will informed of the scathing reports that have been created by the British press.

However, some of the trade papers in Berlin have been slightly more complimentary, at least acknowledging that the male lead, Eugene Hutz, a Ukrainian pop singer, gives the movie a certain quirky charm.

Meanwhile, a straw poll of the journalists attending the screening saw them sheepishly admitting "they actually quite liked it".

Many critics, though, wish that she would just be content with music, but that is unlikely to happen.

Madonna, a chameleon with her image, is the same with her artistry.

If she wants to try film directing, just as with acting, she will have several attempts at it.

If she has proved anything over the last 25 years it is that while others give up, Madonna will carry on.



SEE ALSO
Press views: Madonna's Berlin film
14 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
Madonna leads Berlin film event
07 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Madonna's fundraiser
07 Feb 08 |  In Pictures
Madonna 'is richest woman singer'
30 Jan 08 |  Entertainment

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