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21/4/2005: TOMMY JOINS CANNES VETS

Tommy Lee Jones is the only debuting director to be selected for Competition at Cannes this year, and joins a swag of auteurs well known on the Croisette: Wim Wenders, Michael Haneke, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Atom Egoyan, Amos Gitai, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Jim Jarmusch, David Cronenberg, Gus Van Sant and Lars von Trier. Whose follow up to Dogville in his USA trilogy, Manderlay, stars Bryce Dallas Howard, in place of Nicole Kidman. (Full details in our Cannes bumber edition, published April 29.)

Coincidentally, Cronenberg’s History of Violence and Wenders’ Don’t Come Knockin' both tackle themes with a Western theme, although both are contempo settings. Cronenberg joins Egoyan to lift the Canadian profile at Cannes.

Another coincidental, thematic link emerges in the Jarmusch comedy Broken Flowers, in which Bill Murray’s character visits ex-girlfriends across the U.S. for clues as to the origins of a 19-year-old alleged son who has just come to his attention. This echoes Bill Murray’s character being confronted by a grown up son he didn’t know about in The Life Aquatic.

In all, nine of the competition films are English language and three are French films. "Films’ nationalities have less and less meaning," festival president Gilles Jacob, told journalists. "In the future we'll probably start referring to films as European or Latin American."

Commenting on his choices, festival director Thierry Fremaux told Variety, "Each year is different. Last year there were opportunities to open the festival to documentaries and animation, and we jumped at that. This year, a sort of unconscious rendezvous has taken place with more classical auteurs, and we've grabbed that opportunity. I don't think I am taking a step backward -- I think everyone wants to see these films."

Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith and Woody Allen’s Match Point, starring Scarlett Johansson, will be screened out of competition, and Dominik Moll’s Lemmings will open the festival (and is in Competition). Natalie Portman, incidentally, is in two films at Cannes this year: Star Wars and Amos Gitai’s Competition entry, Free Zone. So is Jessica Lange: Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers and Wim Wenders’ Don’t Come Knockin’; and William Hurt: A History of Violence (David Cronenberg) and The King (James Marsh).

Un Certain Regard will screen 15 films, and has a raised profile with Alexander Payne (Sideways) as its Jury President.

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