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Lineup for 61st Cannes film festival unveiled

Latest update : 2008-05-13

Veteran directors Clint Eastwood and Wim Wenders will compete against up-and-coming filmmakers for the top prize at this year's Cannes film festival, whose jury will be headed by Sean Penn. (Story: Fr2, R.Ranucci, S.Silke)

The nominees for the 61st edition of the Cannes Film Festival were announced in Paris Wednesday morning. In all, 54 films have been selected, with 20 in the Official Competition section running for the coveted Golden Palm, and 19 films in the “Un Certain Regard” category, a parallel section that features more independent and personal works.

The jury, presided by American actor-director Sean Penn, includes Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman and Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Two other members are to be announced soon.

While Latin American films are prominent in this years’ selection, with 4 films selected in all, international media is likely to focus on films from across the Atlantic - Clint Eastwood’s The Changeling and Steven Soderbergh’s  Che, a 4-hour adaptation of Che Guevara’s life being  possible prizewinners.

In the out of competition section, Woody Allen’s latest film and the world premiere of Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will add the touch of glamour characteristic of the Cannes Festival.

Other prizes up for grabs are the Grand Prix, the special Jury Prize and prizes for best director as well as male and female acting performances. The Golden Camera will be awarded to the best first film.


The unstoppable Cannes ‘regulars’

The selected feature films from a total of nearly 1,800 entries showcase an array of Cannes ‘regulars,’ without whom no edition of the festival is complete.

Returning directors include two-time Golden Palm winners the Dardenne Brothers with Le Silence de Lorna (Lorna’s Silence), Wim Wenders with The Palermo Shooting and Atom Egoyan with Adoration, all competing for the Golden Palm. Other favourites include Taiwanese director Hao Hsieu Hsien, and French directors Olivier Assayas and Bruno Dumont who make their Cannes comebacks as jury members.

Special screenings have been arranged to accommodate films by former jury presidents Wong Kar-Wai and Emir Kusturica. The former presents a re-edited version of his film Ashes of Time, while the latter has been slotted for a midnight screening of a 2006 documentary about legendary footballer Diego Maradona. Quentin Tarantino, another former jury president, will, for his part, treat festival goers with a cinema ‘masterclass,’ given by Martin Scorcese last year.

Fare for the Hollywood-hungry

After having satiated the cinephile, the world's most prestigious film festival has to fulfill a professional duty - to keep photographers busy. And this year will be no different. The red carpet will be graced by Clint Eastwood, whose new film features Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich. Jolie will reappear beside Dustin Hoffman to promote Dreamworks' animation feature Kung-Fu Panda. Woody Allen, whose status in France is iconic, will walk up the red carpet accompanied by Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson to present Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the new work in Allen’s flourishing ‘European’ cycle of films that kicked off with Match Point in 2005.
But the most media-focused event of the festival will certainly be the out-of-competition premiere of Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with an older but ever dynamic Harrison Ford. “Spielberg is a star in his own right, “ said Thierry Frémeux, the festival’s Director to France 24, “He’ll attract the flashes off all the photographers.”



A new cinema with new tendencies

The film industry is, however, facing an unprecedented evolution. New media and an ever-evolving technological jungle have compelled producers, filmmakers and distributors alike to reposition the 7th art in line with the changing times. “We are not insensible to what is happening around us,” said the festival’s President Gilles Jacob to FRANCE 24. “Digital video, DVD technology, internet piracy all pose complex problems to the film industry. While digital technology is helpful, internet piracy will soon force distributors to release films simultaneously in all countries… But one must follow the evolution, and accept it.” Jacob specifies that the festival’s first and foremost goal is to promote artistic endeavour.”

Indeed, it is often through the Cannes Film Festival that new cinematographic tendencies are institutionalised on the international stage. Last year, Romanian cinema marked the festival’s crowning glory, with the Golden Palm as well as the top prize in the "Un Certain Regard" category being awarded to the Romanian films 4 months 3 weeks 2 days and California Dreaming respectively.

This year, the festival coincides with the anniversary of the May 1968 student riots in France and the rest of the world, leaving some to wonder about the political nature of this year’s edition.

“There will be films that will be directly or indirectly political,” said Thierry Fremeaux to FRANCE 24. The festival’s Director cites as an example the Israeli film Waltz with Bashir, an animated documentary about the 1982 Lebanese war, competing for the Golden Palm. “But we don’t select films based on political content,” he specifies.

For the moment, to sum it up in Frémeaux’s words, “The Cannes flame has started its journey southward from Paris, and no boycott of the ceremony is expected.”

Date created : 2008-04-23