Scorsese to multitask at festival

“The Golden Compass,” U2, the Coen brothers and Martin Scorsese have joined the festivities at the 60th Cannes Film Festival, while “Zodiac” could be the closing-night film.

Fest kicks off May 16.

After New Line’s big success with its “Lord of the Rings” preview in 2001, “Compass,” selected scenes of which will be shown, brings the cachet of star Daniel Craig and director Chris Weitz. (Nicole Kidman may not be making the trip since she’ll be filming in Australia.)

Scorsese will be the guest of honor. “He has a long history with the festival, and we want our friends with us to celebrate the 60th anniversary,” festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux said Wednesday.

Helmer, winner of the 1976 Palme d’Or for “Taxi Driver,” will multitask during his sojourn on the Croisette, presenting the fest’s Cinema Lesson, handing out the Camera d’Or for first film, and launching his World Cinema Foundation for the preservation of classic pics from around the world.

In addition, Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington’s U2 concert doc will be for sale at the market and there will be an out-of-competition showing of 20 minutes of Scorsese’s documentary on the Rolling Stones .

James Gray’s “We Own the Night,” from 2929 Prods. and Universal, and “No Country for Old Men,” from the Coen brothers, were both confirmed for the fest Wednesday. Gray’s film is the New York filmmaker’s first in seven years.

Films confirmed before Wednesday include “Ocean’s Thirteen” (Daily Variety, March 15) and “Death Proof,” Quentin Tarantino’s contribution to “Grindhouse” (Daily Variety, March 30). (Robert Rodriguez may present a midnight showing of his half of “Grindhouse,” “Planet Terror.”)

The rest of the lineup is a guessing game at this point.

The big decisions on official selections will be made in the next two weeks as the Cannes team views multiple pics. But insiders say that strong contenders include films by Gus Van Sant (“Paranoid Park”), Woody Allen (“Cassandra’s Dreams”), Todd Haynes (“I’m Not There”), Michael Winterbottom (“A Mighty Heart”), Paulo Morelli (“City of Men,” a sequel to “City of God,” directed by Fernando Meirelles, who is a producer of this new film), Harmony Korine (“Mister Lonely”) and Julian Schnabel (“Diving Bell and Butterfly”). There’s also buzz that David Fincher’s “Zodiac” will close the fest.

A popular guess to make the fest is Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” given the Moore-Cannes lovefest with “Fahrenheit 9/11.” However, Moore is apparently racing to finish the film in time for Cannes consideration.

This year’s festival is likely to see a strong Asian influence, and there are several big pics in line for spots.

Wong Kar Wai’s “My Blueberry Nights” is a major contender, assuming it’s finished in time. But the fest is keen to avoid the kind of screw-up that occurred when his last film, which he was completing at the last minute, finally arrived for its competition screening one day late.

Possibilities from China include Jiang Wen’s “The Sun Also Rises,” starring Joan Chen, Jaycee Chan, Jiang and Anthony Wong, and Wang Xiaoshui’s “Left Right.”

Contenders from Japan include Takeshi Kitano’s “Kantoku Banzai,” as well as Shinji Aoyama’s “Sad Vacation.”

From Hong Kong, there’s three-part actioner “Triangle,” helmed by celebrated directors Tsui Hark, Johnnie To and Ringo Lam.

“Jodha Akbar” will be there representing India, possibly in a special section dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Indian independence, which coincides with Cannes’ 60th. Pic starring Aishwarya Rai (a former Cannes juror) and superstar Hrithik Roshan was helmed by “Lagaan’s” Ashutosh Gowariker.

Korea has three genuinely competition-worthy titles from Lee Chang-dong (“Secret Sunshine”), Kim Ki-duk (“Breath”) and Im Kwon-taek (“Cheon-neon-hak,” aka “Thousand Year Crane” or “Across the Years”). But it seems unlikely that all three will make the Competition.

From other parts of the world, there’s Italian Marco Risi’s “Maradonna, the Hand of God.”

Gael Morel’s “Apres Lui,” starring Catherine Deneuve as a woman who forms a relationship with her son’s friend after the son is killed in a car accident, looks a likely pick. So does Claude Miller’s “Le Secret,” adapted from the novel by Philippe Grimberg, with French thesp-pop heartthrob Patrick Bruel.

As for events, there will be a big Cannes launch for the Queensland, UNESCO and CNN-backed Asia-Pacific Film Awards, to be held in November.

The World Cinema Foundation will bow with the screening of an as-yet-unannounced recently restored classic movie in the presence of Scorsese and helmers including Abbas Kiarostami and Souleymane Cisse.

Fremaux said Scorsese’s presence as guest of honor was a one-off initiative.

“He’s a very special guest. He is also attached to the transmission of knowledge to the next generation, which is why we are so pleased that he will give the Cinema Lesson and hand out the Camera d’Or to a filmmaker of the future.”

Scorsese was the festival’s jury topper in 1998.

Adam Dawtrey, Derek Elley, Patrick Frater, Alison James, Todd McCarthy, Gunnar Rehlin, Sharon Swart and Anne Thompson contributed to this report.

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