Cannes revs up slate

Fest could play Liman's 'Fair Game'

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful,” a Spanish-language drama toplining Javier Bardem, and Mike Leigh’s latest slice-of-life ensembler, “Another Year,” are set to premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

Less confirmed, though looking like a strong possibility, is a competition berth for Doug Liman’s political thriller “Fair Game,” which screened earlier this week for fest director Thierry Fremaux and his selection committee.

Starring Naomi Watts as exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame and Sean Penn as her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, “Fair Game” would help raise the U.S. flag in what’s shaping up to be an otherwise thin year for Yanks in Palme d’Or contention. Most of the fest’s studio-backed titles — Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood,” Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” and Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” — will play out of competition, and it’s unclear if Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life,” a big competition prospect, will be ready in time ( Daily Variety , April 12).

With Fremaux due to unveil the official selection on Thursday, the lineup is gradually coming into focus, though a few key selections likely will be made after the announcement.

On the French front, Cannes competition veteran Bertrand Tavernier seems a likely return contender with “La Princesse de Montpensier,” a historical costumer starring Melanie Thierry as the titular 16th-century heroine.

Initially floated as an opening-night candidate before that slot went to “Robin Hood,” Francois Ozon’s “Potiche,” starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu, now appears headed for an out-of-competition slot. Two other French pics likely to wind up in the mix are Xavier Beauvois’ “Of Gods and Men,” a drama set among Cistercian monks, and “Tournee,” helmed by popular Gallic thesp Mathieu Amalric (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “Wild Grass”), which could screen in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar if not the official selection.

While it’s not looking like an especially strong year for Asian fare, South Korea will be represented not only by Lee Chang-dong’s competition entry “Poetry,” but also by Hong Sang-soo’s “Ha Ha Ha” in the official selection’s Un Certain Regard sidebar. Im Sang-soo’s “The Housemaid,” a remake of Kim Ki-young’s 1960 black-and-white classic, is also rumored to be in the running.

Other titles likely to appear in the official selection include two Hungarian entries, Bela Tarr’s “The Turin Horse” and Kornel Mundruczo’s “The Frankenstein Project”; Ricardo Darin starrer “Carancho,” from Argentina’s Pablo Trapero; “La nostra vita,” from Italy’s Daniele Luchetti; and French-Australian co-production “The Tree,” helmed by Julie Bertucelli and starring last year’s Cannes actress prizewinner, Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Also said to be on the fest’s radar are Danish helmer Susanne Bier’s small-town drama “The Revenge” and Julian Schnabel’s “Miral,” an examination of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Willem Dafoe, Alexander Siddig and Freida Pinto.

The Cannes Film Festival runs May 12-23.

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