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With a week or more to go before the official announcement from Festival de Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux of which films have been selected for the main Competition and Un Certain Regard, rumours are (as usual) bubbling around the cinema world about which directors will be honoured with an invitation to walk up the red carpet to the altar of cinema. Here’s what the rumours and spies are saying.

No news is good news, so at press time there was hope that Robert Connolly will be going to Cannes with his second feature after The Bank, (he produced The Boys), Three Dollars. Eddie (David Wenham) by profession is a chemical engineer working for the Victorian Public Service testing soil for contamination in advance of development. His wife Tanya (Frances O’Connor) is an academic, and their six year old daughter Abby (Joanna Hunt-Prokhovnik) is well loved. When he leaks a report to The Age, concerned about a certain project, he is fired and finds himself unemployed, with just three dollars to his name. It’s at this moment that he meets his childhood sweetheart again, Amanada (Sarah Wynter), daughter of a wealthy developer. With Tanya tearfully fearful for their future, Eddie’s natural optimism is tested to the limit as he turns a baffled eye on the world.

John Hillcoat (who made the gritty and powerful Ghosts of the Civil Dead) is possibly Cannes-bound, too, with his period drama, The Proposition, boasting an impressive cast: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, John Hurt, David Wenham, Emily Watson.

There is also talk of Tony Krawitz going, with his 50 minute Jewboy about a Rabbi’s son searching for his place in the world, starring Ewen Leslie, Saskia Burmeister, Leah Vandenburg, Chris Haywood and Naomi Wilson.

In February 2005, the Festival’s Christian Jeune, Directeur Département Films, visited Australia to make a preliminary assessment of Australian films for viewing by the various committees and Festival Director Thierry Fremoux. His lips are sealed, and whatever he recommends joins a long list of contenders.

The most intense jostling for a prized Competition slot is amongst English language works, from a well seasoned group of arthouse directors, like Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, David Cronenberg, Gus van Sant, Lars von Trier and the lesser known but edgy director, Dominik Moll (Harry He’s Here to Help). There is good money on Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller’s noir-esque Sin City, with Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Clive Owen, which has had its Australian release put back from May to August – take that as a sign.

It has been rumoured, too, that James Marsh's Deep South drama, The King, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and William Hurt, is a distant Competition possibility.

Asia is apparently proving tricky, though; other than the Japanese veteran Seijun Suzuki, spies say Fremaux is in a bit of a bind. Bets are on South Korean maverick Kim Ki-duk making a debut Cannes showing with Racoon Princess; his Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring was an arthouse winner last year. He has one Big Thing going for him: Racoon Princess stars Zhang Ziyi, who is adored by the French.

Adored, but not as much as the French filmmakers themselves, of course. Down to the wire, there is talk of Les poupees russes, by France's clever Cedric Klapisch, a follow-up to his globally loved, The Spanish Apartment. Also possible, Nicole Garcia's all-male, Charlie Says, with classy veteran Jean-Pierre Bacri, and a first film by novelist Emmanuel Carrere, La moustache. A special screening of Joyeux Noel, by Christian Carion (One Swallow Brought Spring), is apparently definite, to be attended by French politicians and notables. This is clearly a film to touch French hearts - based on the true story of a Christmas truce arranged by soldiers during WWI.

The word on the big deal Opening Film is soft: it was expected that Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith might be a good choice, but it’s more likely now to have a special screening out-of-comp. But then, what new film can deliver that sense of occasion, together with cinematic virtues?

Watch this (cyber)space ….

Published April 14, 2005

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David Wenham stars in Three Dollars

Festival de Cannes

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