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It begins with Hollywood Ending and ends with And Now Ladies and Gentlemen, but this year’s Cannes Film Festival is not back to front; it’s back to the future, with newcomers and strong political themes that reflect a combination of despair and hope, suggests Andrew L. Urban.

Woody Allen’s Hollywood Ending is one of the 55 feature films in, and opens, the 55th Cannes Film Festival, symbolic of France’s love-hate relationship with America; but a Frenchman, Claude Lelouch, has the honour of closing the event, with And Now…Ladies and Gentlemen.

“If last year's Festival seemed to present the same old renowned filmmakers - regulars on the Croisette - in the Official Selection, this year will be different,” says the official statement from the Festival. “Newcomers will climb the Red Carpet stairs: Elia Suleiman, Paul Thomas Anderson, Jia Zankhe and Michael Moore, as well as French cineasts making their first appearance in the competition.”

English cinema is also making a major comeback this year. Absent in 2001, England will present three films In Competition and one in Un Certain Regard.

A cross section of the festival films suggests political and social issues dominate: a Palestinian film by Elia Suleiman and an Israeli film by Amos Gitaï - two manifestos of peace - and other pictures from Algeria, Turkey, Lebanon and even Syria (its first time in the Official Selection). Marco Bellochio speaks of religion, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh of England today, Aki Kaurismäki of Finland. For Un Certain Regard, Ghassam Salhab speaks of hope in Beirut, Francesca Joseph of the belief in an improvement in human nature, Bahman Ghobadi of the Kurdish exile. Atom Egoyan’s film on the Armenian genocide will be presented Out of Competition, “because of the filmmaker's personal bond to the subject.”

But, perhaps the most political film in the Selection is Michael Moore's documentary, Bowling for Columbine. Based on the tragic Littleton Columbine high school shooting, this film condemns the International weapons market.

The American presence in the Festival is marked by diversity. There are two films In Competition and a rich Out of Competition program: Woody Allen's latest feature film for the Opening Ceremony, Dreamworks' new animated movie (Spirit, with Brian Adams and Matt Damon live on stage), Barbet Schroeder's new film (Murder by Numbers, starring Sandra Bullock and soon for an Australian release), a documentary made by Rosanna Arquette – plus, Martin Scorsese, accompanied by his actors, will present 20 minutes of his upcoming feature, Gangs of New York.

The year 2002 also marks the return of Abbas Kiarostami, winner of the 1997 Palme d'Or for Taste of Cherry. His latest picture, Ten, is a work of fiction shot on video “that proves he truly deserves his place in the international competition.”


There are three new Australian films that will be looking for international buyers at the Marche du Film in Cannes. This is one of the lowest profile years for Australia at Cannes in every sense, although it is bolstered by the high quality of the three films – two of which have strong Aboriginal story elements.

Australian Rules
Directed by Paul Goldman. Stars Nathan Phillips, Luke Carroll, Lisa Flanagan, Tom Budge, Simon Westaway. A rites of passage film based on a book that was based on a true story, set in a small town where Aboriginals are part of the football team – but not of society.

The Hard Word
Directed by Scott Roberts. Stars Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Robert Taylor, Joel Edgerton, Damien Richardson. Good crims, bad cops, black comedy.

Rabbit Proof Fence
Directed by Phillip Noyce. Stars Evelyn Sampi, Laura Monaghan, Tianna Sansbury, Kenneth Branagh, David Gulpilil. Based on the true story of three young Aboriginal girls taken from their mother in 1931 to remote camp 1500 miles away, from which they escaped and returned home on foot.

Published May 16, 2002

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55th Cannes Film Festival
May 15 – 26, 2002


And don’t hold your breath for the Australian contingent: Australia’s only festival entry is the acclaimed 6 minute film by Anthony Lucas – Holding Your Breath. The animation is shot using silhouette miniatures made of sticks, leaves, aluminium foil and glue. The story is set in an industrial town where a girl explores changing friendships and a growing understanding of herself. 


David Lynch, President
(Director, USA)

Christine HAKIM (Actress, Indonesia)

Sharon STONE (Actress, USA)

Michelle YEOH (Actress, China/Hong Kong)

Bille AUGUST (Director, Denmark)

Claude MILLER (Director, France)

Raoul RUIZ (Director, France)

Walter SALLES (Director, Brazil)

Régis WARGNIER (Director, France)

Australian Rules

The Hard Word

Rabbit Proof Fence

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