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Culture

Eclectic Cannes line-up mixes veterans and new blood

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH

Text by Jon FROSCH

Latest update : 2010-04-29

The line-up for the 63rd Cannes Film Festival announced Thursday in Paris is an eclectic, intriguing, and particularly international list, mixing a handful of previous Cannes winners with some new names and spanning 13 countries.

It’s a moment that cinephiles around the world await each year with bated breath.

Every spring, the sun-dappled French Riviera city of Cannes draws throngs of international movie industry professionals, journalists, and star gazers to the most glamorous and prestigious of all film festivals. The countdown for this year’s edition, to take place from May 12 to 23, kicked off at a posh Parisian hotel Thursday with the announcement of the films that will vie for the coveted “Palme d’or” (Golden Palm) prize.

Many in recent years have complained that the official selection often resembles an exclusive club of big-name festival regulars (2009’s roster included oft-decorated Pedro Almodóvar, Ken Loach, Lars von Trier, Michael Haneke, and Quentin Tarantino). But festival director Thierry Frémaux was careful to note that this year’s selection was proof that cinema “is not only a dialogue between Europe and America, but a global artform”. Indeed, the line-up announced is an eclectic, intriguing, and particularly international list, mixing a handful of previous Cannes winners with some new blood and spanning 13 countries.

France leads a varied international pack

France has the most films in the running: veteran Bertrand Tavernier returns for the first time since 1990 with “La Princesse de Montpensier”; Xavier Beauvois, last in competition in 1995, will present “Des Hommes et des dieux” (“Of Gods and Men”); and critically adored actor Mathieu Amalric, known to Anglophone audiences as the weaselly villain in the latest James Bond film, will compete for the first time as director with “Tournée”.

In a bit of a surprise, the only American film to make the in-competition cut is “Fair Play”, Doug Liman’s thriller about outed CIA agent Valerie Plame and her husband Joseph Wilson. Undoubtedly the most mainstream entry (Liman is best known for directing “The Bourne Identity”), it also -- with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in lead roles -- promises the starriest red-carpet walk.

Other eagerly awaited American works will be screened out of competition: Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” update with Russell Crowe in the title role will open the festival; Woody Allen (who, as usual, refused to be considered for competition) will unveil “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”, a London-set romance featuring Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, and Anthony Hopkins; and Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” sequel, “Money Never Sleeps”, marks Michael Douglas’s return to the Croisette.

Filmmakers who already have in-competition Cannes awards stashed away at home – and hope to add another this time around -- include the UK’s Mike Leigh, back with the ensemble comedy-drama “Another Year”; Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu, winner of the Best Director prize in 2006 for “Babel”, who will present “Biutiful”, a Spanish film starring Javier Bardem; Abbas Kiarostami, whose romantic drama “Certified Copy” (starring Juliette Binoche) is the first film he shot outside his native Iran; Russian Nikita Mikhalkov, who will bid for top honours with “Burnt by the Sun 2”, a follow-up to the film that snagged him a second-place prize in 1994; and Thai provocateur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose latest is called “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives”.

Other films chosen come from directors familiar with the whirlwind of Cannes competition, but who have never tasted victory: Algerian historical drama “Outside the Law”, from Paris-born Rachid Bouchareb; “Outrage”, from cult Japanese filmmaker Takeshi Kitano; “Poetry”, a Korean drama from Chang-dong Lee; and “La Nostra Vita”, from Italian Daniele Luchetti.

Aside from Frenchman Amalric, another filmmaker hoping for a first shot at Cannes glory is Sang-soo Im, whose adultery thriller “Housemaid” is a remake of a Korean classic. And in this year’s biggest twist, the competition includes films from Chad (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s “A Screaming Man”) and Ukraine (Sergei Loznitsa’s “You, My Joy”, a dark story about a few days in the life of a truck driver).

A new Godard, a Tim Burton-led jury, and an unfinished list

Among films contending for awards other than the Golden Palm, perhaps the most hotly anticipated is the latest from iconoclastic New Wave lion Jean-Luc Godard. Enigmatically entitled “Film Socialisme”, the movie will screen in the “Un Certain Regard” category, which features works of “original” vision and style from around the world.

In the weeks before the press conference, rumours swirled around possible in-competition entries from French director François Ozon and American Terence Malick. Their omission indeed raised eyebrows, but Frémaux and festival president Gilles Jacob specified that the list was not yet complete, and a few titles would be added shortly. Aside from Jacob and Frémaux, the Cannes selection committee is made up of a small number of film industry professionals and critics whose names are not publicised.

In addition to the films, the names of the jury members who will meet behind closed doors, debate, and emerge with the main prize-winners, were announced Thursday. With the quirky choice of US filmmaker Tim Burton as president, the jury will also consist of actresses Kate Beckinsale of Britain and Giovanna Mezzogiorno of Italy; Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro; Directors Victor Erice of Spain and Shekhar Kapur of India; French journalist, screenwriter, and director Emmanuel Carrère; and Alberto Barbera, director of Italy’s National Museum of Cinema in Turin.

Date created : 2010-04-15

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