CANNES, France — Rocker Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat on Saturday took a swipe at the "failed" war on drugs as they presented their "Lawless" Prohibition-era rural gangster movie at Cannes.
"Prohibition still exists today. It still fails epically, with the so-called war on drugs," Cave, who wrote the script, said after a press screening that saw the work by his fellow Australian get a restrained clap.
"Lawless" features Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce with Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain as the love interests in a violent slice of hillbilly moonshine myth-making based on a true story from the 1930s United States when alcohol was banned.
Hillcoat said that he saw many parallels to today "with the economic crisis, the political crisis, the war on drugs".
He said he made a montage that was due to start the film that showed modern-day Mexican drug cartels, then moved back "through the 80s and the Cubans and cocaine and heroin in New York, and went way back and landed on Prohibition".
"That was the birth of serious organised crime and it's been going ever since. So it feeds into all of those things that are going on today," he said, adding that he later decided not to include the montage.
Cave, a former heroin addict, said later in an interview with AFP that "to me personally, this disastrous war on drugs is an absolutely unbelievable waste of money.
"Seven percent of criminals in jail are on drug-related offences. It just seems to me that prohibition still exists today and it still doesn't work," he said.
He said he believed the solution was to "legalise all drugs and let all those people out of prison and I would spend the money in a more judicious way."
Asked if he meant hard drugs like cocaine and heroin should be made legal, he replied: "The whole lot, yeah."
"There is a major problem and it's not being dealt with at all."
Based on Matt Bondurant's "The Wettest County in the World", "Lawless" is one of 22 films in the running for the Palme d'Or top prize at Cannes to be handed out on May 27.
It gets its red carpet Cannes premiere on Saturday evening.
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