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The Festival de Cannes’ love affair with Clint Eastwood (and the stars of his films who come to add glamour to the festival) continues this year with the 1920 thriller, Changeling, which will be the fifth of his films to screen in Competition; it stars Angelina Jolie. And Cate Blanchett is red carpeting for Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones sequel.

Although reduced in number, the Americans are indeed still coming: Steven Soderbergh’s two-part Che Guevara biopic and Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona (starring Penelope Cruz) also have their premieres at the 61st edition of the fest.

These and out of competition slots for other US films - like DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda, a comedic chopsocky toon voiced by Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan and Dustin Hoffman and the only first-time director in the Competition this year, writer Charlie Kaufman with his Synecdoche, New York, (which hands down gets the prize for the Festival’s most uncommercial title), starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as a theatre director - will ensure a good supply of high end glamour guests, but fest director Thierry Fremaux (guided perhaps by old Cannes war horse Gilles Jacob) has also invited some lesser known filmmakers.

(Two Australian shorts, My Rabbit Hoppy, written and directed by Anthony Lucas, and Jerrycan, written and directed by Julius Avery, will screen in the Shorts Competition.)

The Fest will open with the Brazil/Canada/Japan co-production, Blindness from Brazil’s Fernando Mirelles, but starring Hollywood’s Julianne Moore as a doctor's wife who becomes the only person with the ability to see in a town where everyone is struck with a mysterious case of sudden blindness. Mark Ruffalo is the doctor. It will close with Barry Levinson’s very Hollywood film, What Just Happened?, in which Robert De Niro plays a fading Hollywood producer who's having a rough time trying to get his new picture made. Also stars Bruce Willis as himself, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro and Robyn Wright Penn (handy for jury President Sean to have Robin as a Fest guest…)

"Cannes regulars"

Cannes regulars include Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne vie for their third Palme d’Or with a drama about a young woman, The Silence of Lorna.

Arnaud Desplechin returns with A Christmas Tale, a family solidarity tale with a star-studded French cast led by Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric. Other than the two-part Che, this film looks to be the longest in the Competition at 2½ hours; the only other feature listed at more than 2¼ hours is Eastwood’s Changeling, at 140 minutes.

From Latin America, Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas address modern Brazilian social issues with Linha de passe, an urban road movie, mostly set in Sao Paulo’s high-rise hell, about four wannabe soccer star brothers.

Canada’s Atom Egoyan competes with Adoration, a tale of the relationship between teens and new technology starring Scott Speedman and Rachel Blanchard.

Wim Wenders competes with a romantic thriller, The Palermo Shooting, starring Milla Jovovich, Dennis Hopper and Giovanna Mezzogiorno.

Another Cannes favorite, Turkish vanguard auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan, famed for his aesthetic, contemplative dramas, incorporates a detective story into Three Monkeys.

France has three films in Competition: Alongside Desplechin’s pic is La Frontiere de l’aube, from indefatigable New Wave auteur Philippe Garrel; and Laurent Cantet with Entre Les Murs.

"recentered and renewed"

Fremaux, who acknowledged that the selection process (1,792 films viewed, up 11% from last year) was “very difficult,” said last year’s 60th edition drew a line in the sand. “Cinema is evolving and the Cannes festival with it,” he said to a packed press conference at the Paris Grand Hotel. The 61st edition is “recentered and renewed,” Jacob said in an introductory speech.

The Israeli industry has been buzzing for months about the animated docu feature that centers on Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir.

Other Palme d’Or contenders who are far from being household names include Hungary’s Kornel Mundruczo, with Delta, an incest-themed village drama; Italian Matteo Garrone, with bestseller-based Mafia drama Gomorra; and Singapore’s top-ranking auteur, Eric Khoo, with his Tamil-language, father-son and body-piercing drama My Magic, his first film in Competition after last appearing at the Directors Fortnight.

Prolific, but relatively new to the limelight, director Brillante Mendoza from the Philippines also gets a promotion, with his latest pic, Serbis, in Competition, after Foster Child played Directors’ Fortnight last year.

Argentina boasts two features in the Competition. Lucrecia Martel, who previously competed with The Holy Girl, is back with the politically tinged woman’s drama La Mujer sin cabeza, while Pablo Trapero will bring Leonera.

Italy is represented by Paolo Sorrentino’s Il Divo, about Italy’s shadowy seven-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti. With Marco Tullio Giordana’s Sangue pazzo, about a famed Mussolini-era acting couple, playing in a Special Screening, Italy has a strong presence at Cannes, with three films focusing on its turbulent recent history.

Asia has a slim Competition presence. But just as the Korean film industry has hit bottom business-wise, it will still bring two films that promise to stoke interest.

The Good, the Bad, the Weird, a South Korean Western from auteur Kim Jee-woon, will show Out of Competition. A Midnight slot has been reserved for serial killer actioner The Chaser, by first-time director Na Hong-jin. Warner Bros. has already acquired remake rights for what is characterized as a kind of sequel to Oldboy.

"doco program"

The doco program should bring two sports world mega-celebs to Cannes: Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona for Emir Kusturica’s chummy confessional bio Maradona, which plays as a Midnight Screening, and Mike Tyson for James Toback’s Tyson.

Marina Zenovich’s Sundance doco hit, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, receives its European premiere at a Special Screening.

At his behest, Cannes jury president Sean Penn will present Alison Thompson’s Thailand tsunami-themed The Third Wave.

A third Midnight Screening is indie supernatural thriller Surveillance, by Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David Lynch. Pic stars Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman.

Though Fremaux may be trying to bring new blood to the world’s auteur pool, but two vet directors enjoy special screenings: Terence Davies with Of Time and City and Wong Kar Wai with Ashes of Time Redux.

A festa da menina morta, Brazil, Matheus Nachtergaele
Afterschool, U.S., Antonio Campos
De Ofrivilliga, Sweden, Ruben Ostlund
Je veux voir, France, Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige
Johnny Mad Dog, France, Jean-Stephane Sauvaire
La vie moderne (profiles paysans), France, Raymond Depardon
Los Bastardos, Mexico, Amat Escalante
Milh handha al-bahr, (Salt of This Sea), Palestine, Annemarie Jacir
O’ Horten, Norway-Germany, Bent Hamer
Soi Cowboy, U.K., Thomas Clay
Tin Che, (Parking), Taiwan, Chung Mong-Hong
Tokyo!, France-Japan, Bong Joon-ho, Michel Gondry, Leos Carax
Tokyo Sonata, Japan, Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Tulpan, Germany, Sergey Dvortsevoy
Tyson, U.S., James Toback
Versailles, France, Pierre Schoeller
Wendy and Lucy, U.S., Kelly Reichardt
Wolke 9 (Cloud Nine), Germany, Andreas Dresen
Yi ban haishui, yi ban huoyan, China, Fendou Liu

Published May 15, 2008


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Festival de Cannes 2008: May 14 - 25




Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Kung Fu Panda

The Palermo Shooting

Joining Jury President Sean Penn on the Competition jury are Natalie Portman, Alfonso Cuaron, Rachid Bouchareb, Sergio Castellitto, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Alexandra Maria Lara.

German director Fatih Akin presides over the Un Certain Regard jury.

French filmmaker Bruno Dumont will preside over deliberations for the Camera d’Or for best first film. For the 21st consecutive year, Kodak is an official partner of the Cannes Film Festival and sponsor of the Camera d’Or prize, awarded to the year’s best feature-length film submitted by a first-time director.

Quentin Tarantino will give the cinema masterclass lecture at this year’s Festival.
Tarantino, who headed the 2004 Cannes jury, will discuss his experiences as a director and screenwriter. Tarantino’s first feature, Reservoir Dogs, was screened out of competition at the festival in 1992. Two years later, Pulp Fiction was awarded the Palme d’Or by a jury headed by Clint Eastwood. Last year, Tarantino’s B-movie homage, Death Proof, was screened in Competition.

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