Posted: 22 March 2006 at 1:49pm | IP Logged
Coppola Among Cannes Entrants
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
PARIS (Reuters) - With a month to go before the Cannes Film Festival lineup is unveiled, dozens of movies have yet to be seen by selectors, but some certainties have emerged about what will be screening on the Croisette in May.
Already, a good quarter of the 20-plus competition titles are in place. After rumors that Sofia Coppola was leaning toward a September premiere in Venice, her French-shot period drama Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst in the title role, is now a lock for a competition slot.
The final installment of Aki Kaurismaki's Finnish trilogy, Lights in the Dusk, also is assured a competition slot. Kaurismaki scooped up the runner-up Grand Prix at Cannes in 2002 for The Man Without a Past. And, as expected, Pedro Almodovar's epic comedy Volver, starring Penelope Cruz, also will take a competition berth.
French titles are traditionally selected last, but a strong consensus has formed around Nicole Garcia's ensemble piece Selon Charlie for a competition slot.
Nanni Moretti's The Caiman, a skewering of Italian media mogul and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has yet to be screened by selectors, but those who have seen the movie ahead of its release in Italy on Friday said its strengths should guarantee it a place in competition. Moretti won the top Cannes prize, the Palme d'Or, in 2001 for The Son's Room.
Babel a story told in three parts from Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, is thought very likely for competition.
Meanwhile, rumors are growing that one-time competition shoo-in David Lynch might not have his experimental non-narrative film Inland Empire completed in time. Others think this is bluff. "I think the film will be ready in time. David will be going to Cannes even if he pretends he's not. It's 99% certain," one Lynch associate said.
Another raft of titles look certain for inclusion, though for which section of the festival's various options remains in the balance. Among these are Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro's chilling fantastical story set against the backdrop of a fascist regime in 1944 rural Spain, and The Climate, from Turkish helmer Nuri Bilge Ceylan, whose film Distant won the Grand Prix in 2003. Shortbus, John Cameron Mitchell's follow-up to his acclaimed debut Hedwig and the Angry Inch, also falls into this category. Set in contemporary New York, the film is a steamy exploration of relationships as seen through gender, sexuality, art and music.
The tear-jerking World War II drama Indigenes (Days of Glory), a Franco-Morrocan-Algerian co-production directed by Rachid Bouchareb and starring a quartet of France's top talent of North African origin, is a Cannes certainty, though not necessarily for competition. Some involved with the film are keen on a high-profile, out-of-competition screening similar to that for Christian Carion's WWI-set Merry Christmas last year, which helped that movie secure a U.S. deal with Sony Pictures Classics and a subsequent Oscar nomination.
A slew of further movies are scrambling to present a finished cut. These include Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation and Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain.
Of the old British hands, Ken Loach looks the safest bet for competition with The Wind That Shakes the Barley. With its sympathetic look at Republicans in early 20th century Ireland, the movie already is attracting controversy in the U.K. Stephen Frears' The Queen, made for TV in the U.K. but destined for theatrical release elsewhere, may yet secure some sort of Cannes slot, but competition looks increasingly unlikely.
The only titles so far announced by organizers are Columbia Pictures' Tom Hanks vehicle The Da Vinci Code, which opens the festival on May 17, and the multidirector composite film Paris, je t'aime (Paris, I Love You), which will kick off the sidebar Un Certain Regard the following day. The full lineup will be announced April 20 in Paris.
With Cannes running a week later than usual, selectors are making full use of the extra time before sending out official offers to films. Dozens of major titles are scheduled to be screened in the coming weeks, so many producers are waiting to hear if they have made the cut.
"On paper, it looks good," Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux said during a recent visit to Berlin. "Last year, it was a fairly classic lineup. This year, I want to create some surprises."
Animated films are expected to be represented at the festival, with possible contenders including Michel Ocelot's medieval Arabian tale Azur and Asmar and the satirical teen/adult cartoon Snow White, the Sequel from Belgian director Picha. Picha's The Missing Link unspooled In Competition at Cannes in 1980. Disney/Pixar's Cars will not be previewed in Cannes because the European junket will take place the weekend before the fest kicks off at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
Anders Morgenthaler's X-rated Princess, billed as the first Danish Manga film, looks likely for the sidebar Un Certain Regard. Produced by Zentropa, the film tells the story of ex-priest August and Mia, the 5-year-old daughter of former ****-star the Princess, who go on a mission to destroy all ****ographic material with her in it.
Among titles that can now be ruled out of Croisette contention are the psychological drama I Am the Other Woman from German veteran Margarethe von Trotta, which now seems likely for a Venice premiere, and two-time Palme d'Or winner Emir Kusturica's documentary on Argentine soccer legend Maradona, which won't be completed in time. Woody Allen's Scoop also will not be ready for Cannes.
If soccer fan Fremaux wants to include a soccer-themed film ahead of the World Cup Finals in June, a likely one is Zidane, a 90-minute real-time portrait of French star Zinedine Zidane directed by contemporary artists Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno.
Asian titles remain hard to predict. Most likely to appear somewhere is horror/sci-fi picture The Host from Korean helmer Joon-ho Bong, its subject matter of a mutant rising from Seoul's Han river suggesting it may play well as a midnight screening. Jong-bin Yoon's Unforgiven, which premiered at South Korea's Pusan Film Festival, is expected to resurface in Un Certain Regard.
Chinese hopefuls include"Luxury Car, the third film by Wang Chao, which has yet to be screened by selectors; Lou Ye's as-yet-unfinished Summer Palace; and helmer Jia Zhangke's Still Life, also in postproduction.
Elsewhere, German veteran and Palme d'Or winner Volker Schloendorff is being tipped for a slot in Un Certain Regard with The Heroine, the story of the female dock worker at the shipyard in Gdansk who triggered the strike that lead to the creation of the Solidarity movement.
Also on the Un Certain Regard short list is Maria Speth's mother-daughter relationship drama Madonnas, which Pandora is producing and the Match Factory is selling worldwide. And Frenchman Jean-Claude Brisseau's Exterminating Angel, the tale of erotic casting sessions that has some crossover with the director's recent true-life travails, is said to be assured of a place in one of the sidebars.
Cannes' Critics' Week sidebar has yet to lock down a single title. The only title so far confirmed is a special screening of Return to Kigali, a documentary about the genocide in Rwanda by French journalist-turned-filmmaker Jean-Christophe Klotz, organizers said.
Directors' Fortnight has only locked down a handful of titles so far, among them Julian Goldberger's Sundance Film Festival entry The Hawk Is Dying starring Paul Giamatti, and a as-yet-unannounced drama by a first-time French director. Also tipped for a Directors' Fortnight slot is near-future satire How to Get Rid of Others from Danish director Anders Ronnow Klarlund.
Among strong documentary contenders are IFC TV's This Film Is Not Yet Rated directed by Kirby Dick, a critical look at the MPAA ratings board, and The Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl, an HBO-commissioned film tracking the parallel lives of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl and the man convicted of killing him, Omar Sheikh.