Besson’s ‘Element’ to be Cannes opener

PARIS – Luc Besson’s English-lingo Bruce Willis starrer “The Fifth Element” will be the opening film of the 50th Cannes Film Festival, fest topper Gilles Jacob announced.

As with most Besson projects, few details have leaked out about “The Fifth Element,” which is currently in post-production in the U.S., following a lengthy filming process at Britain’s Pinewood Studios. The sci-fi actioner is thought to have cost Gallic major Gaumont more than $90 million, and is being released by Columbia in the U.S.

Titles talk swirling

With Jacob maintaining his traditional tight-lipped policy toward announcing his fest choices, a handful of titles are already being talked about as potential Cannes attendees.

Among them, Clint Eastwood’s “Absolute Power,” which was co-produced and directed by and stars the former Cannes fest jury president, alongside Judy Davis, Scott Glenn, Gene Hackman and Ed Harris. The film will be released by Columbia in the U.S. Although Jacob is believed to be keen to have the pic in the official selection, Eastwood’s current directing commitments on Warners’ “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” mean no decision has yet been taken.

Two Chinese pics that look to be Cannes-bound are Zhang Yimou’s “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” and Zhang Yuan’s “East Palace, West Palace,” while from the U.K. there is talk that Michael Winterbottom’s “Sarajevo” will be at the fest.

From France, word on the street is that after his critically acclaimed “Hate,” hot Gallic director Mathieu Kassovitz will be back on the Croisette with his latest offering, “Assassin(s).” Kassovitz is currently editing the film, in which he stars opposite French thesp Michel Serrault. Produced by Lazennec, “Assassin(s)” is based on a 15-minute short which Kassovitz directed in the early 1990s and tells the tale of an assassin’s apprenticeship under the eye of a veteran killer.

With the fest celebrating its half century this year, pressure to get films into the media spotlight via the official competition is going to be hotter than ever. The Cote d’Azur resort is expected to be awash with the international press, since fest organizers are inviting all previous Palme d’Or directors to attend.

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