Kiarostami, Kitano, Leigh, Liman to hit Croisette

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PARIS — Croisette vets Abbas Kiarostami, Takeshi Kitano, Mike Leigh and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will be among the auteurs competing in this year’s Cannes Film Festival. They’ll be joined by helmer Doug Liman, making his competition debut with the political thriller “Fair Game,” in another slim year for U.S. fare.

Liman’s film — based on the Valerie Plame affair and starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn — reps the only American competish entry thus far, while Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” and Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” will be screened out of competition.

Fest topper Thierry Fremaux dealt out the lineup on Thursday morning at a jam-packed Paris press conference that was pushed a week ahead of schedule “to build up the hype before the fest starts,” Fremaux explained. The event was boycotted by major news agencies including Associated Press and Reuters, which are protesting the fest’s decision to limit video coverage under a deal signed with Gallic pubcasters Canal Plus and Orange.

While Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” was the source of much speculation prior to today’s announcement, Fremaux confirmed that he had seen an early version of the pic months ago and was hoping that a more completed version would be ready for possible selection. With 46 features announced thus far in the official selection, there remain at least four competition berths, as well as the closing-night slot.

The competition features titles from 13 countries, including first-time entries from Chad and the Ukraine. “Our selection underscores the fact that great filmmaking is alive in every country,” said Fremaux. “It’s not merely a dialogue between Europe and America, but a global dialogue.”

Studio pics preeming out of competition include Ridley Scott’s previously announced opener, “Robin Hood,” Stone’s timely “Wall Street” sequel and Allen’s “Stranger,” which will be joined by Stephen Frears’ “Tamara Drewe.”

Other American helmers in the official selection include Gregg Araki, whose “Kaboom” will receive a midnight screening, and indie helmers Lodge Kerrigan with “Rebecca H.” and Derek Cianfrance with “Blue Valentine,” both of which will screen in Un Certain Regard.

Familiar faces this year include former director winner Inarritu with the Spain-set Javier Bardem starrer “Biutiful”; Iranian auteur and Palme d’Or winner Abbas Kiarostami with the French-Italian co-production “Certified Copy,” starring this year’s poster gal, Juliette Binoche; Palme laureate Leigh with his latest U.K. ensembler, “Another Year”; and Japanese thesp-helmer Takeshi Kitano with “Outrage,” his first yakuza gangster pic in a decade.

Fremaux announced that there was a slight drop in the number of films submitted compared with previous years. “We’re now feeling the effects of the recession in terms of artistic creation,” the topper explained.

The Cannes Film Festival runs May 12-23.

OPENER
“Robin Hood,” U.S.-U.K., Ridley Scott

COMPETITION
“Another Year,” U.K., Mike Leigh
“Biutiful,” Spain-Mexico, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
“Burnt by the Sun 2,” Germany-France-Russia, Nikita Mikhalkov
“Certified Copy,” France-Italy-Iran, Abbas Kiarostami
“Fair Game,” U.S., Doug Liman
“Hors-la-loi,” France-Belgium-Algeria, Rachid Bouchareb
“The Housemaid,” South Korea, Im Sang-soo
“La nostra vita,” Italy-France, Daniele Luchetti
“La Princesse de Montpensier,” France, Bertrand Tavernier
“Of Gods and Men,” France, Xavier Beauvois
“Outrage,” Japan, Takeshi Kitano
“Poetry,” South Korea, Lee Chang-dong
“A Screaming Man,” France-Belgium-Chad, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun
Tournee,” France, Mathieu Amalric
“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” Spain-Thailand-Germany-U.K.-France, Apichatpong Weerasethakul
“You, My Joy,” Ukraine-Germany, Sergey Loznitsa

UN CERTAIN REGARD
“Adrienn Pal,” Hungary-Netherlands-France-Austria, Agnes Kocsis
“Aurora,” Romania, Cristi Puiu
“Blue Valentine,” U.S., Derek Cianfrance
“Chatroom,” U.K., Hideo Nakata
“Chongqing Blues,” China, Wang Xiaoshuai
“The City Below,” Germany-France, Christoph Hochhausler
“Film Socialisme,” Switzerland-France, Jean-Luc Godard
“Ha Ha Ha,” South Korea, Hong Sang-soo
“Les Amours imaginaires,” Canada, Xavier Dolan
“Life Above All,” France, Oliver Schmitz
“Los labios,” Argentina, Ivan Fund, Santiago Loza
“Octubre,” Peru, Daniel Vega
“Qu’est-il arrive a Simon Werner?,” France, Fabrice Gobert
“Rebecca H.,” France, Lodge Kerrigan
“R U There,” Netherlands, David Verbeek
“The Strange Case of Angelica,” Portugal, Manoel de Oliveira
“Tuesday, After Christmas,” Romania, Radu Muntean
Udaan,” India, Vikramaditya Motwane

OUT OF COMPETITION
“Tamara Drewe,” U.K., Stephen Frears
“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” U.S., Oliver Stone
“You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” U.K.-Spain, Woody Allen

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS
“Kaboom,” U.S.-France, Gregg Araki
“L’autre monde,” France-Belgium, Gilles Marchand

SPECIAL SCREENINGS
“Abel,” Mexico, Diego Luna
“Chantrapas,” France, Otar Iosseliani
“Draquila — L’Italia che trema,” Italy, Sabina Guzzanti
“Inside Job,” U.S., Charles Ferguson
“Nostalgia de la luz,” France, Patricio Guzman
“Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow,” Netherlands, Sophie Fiennes

COMPETITION JURY
Tim Burton, president
Alberto Barbera
Kate Beckinsale
Emmanuel Carre
Benicio Del Toro
Victor Erice
Shekhar Kapur
Giovanna Mezzogiorno

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