Latour's latest stirs up African hornet's nest

Hot French-Canadian actress Marie-Jose Croze, recently seen in “Munich,” has had her pick of roles since “The Barbarian Invasions.”

So it is surprising to see her pop up here in Berlin in “Birds of Heaven” a low-budget pic about the struggles of immigrants from West Africa’s Ivory Coast.

In another twist that would give any rising Hollywood actress’ manager apoplexy, Croze’s character Tango has a lesbian relationship with a West African woman.

“I’m offered lots of roles but most of them are women that I wouldn’t want to play,” Croze said after Wednesday night’s packed Forum premiere of the pic, which she was seeing for the first time.

“When I read the script I immediately liked Tango, and I liked her values. She’s someone I could imagine being friends with.”

As for the love scenes: “It was very different during the shooting and seeing what’s up on the screen,” the thesp said.

Movie, a follow-up to French helmer Eliane Latour’s similarly themed “Bronx Barbes,” is already stirring controversy in the small and underfunded world of African filmmaking.

According to producer Pascal Judelewicz, several African directors walked out of Wednesday’s screening.

Reason number one is that Latour, a French anthropologist, has received Gallic funding and TV coin for making a film in Africa when few films by Africans get financed.

Also, none of the handful of thesps who very convincingly rep the youth of Ivory Coast’s economic capital Abidjan actually live there.

In real life classically trained English actor Frazer James, who plays one of the central characters Shad, a Liberian, has a cut-glass Brit accent and doesn’t even speak French. He learned the script phonetically.

Pic is being sold here by Becker Films, and screens at 10.30 p.m. Friday at CinemaxX 7 and 9.30 p.m. Sunday at Zoo Palast 1.

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