Cannes feels the crunch

63rd edition lacking in Hollywood pics

It’s a belt-tightening year for the Cannes Film Festival.

With four competition slots still open and only one American-directed film in the running for the Palme d’Or (Doug Liman’s “Fair Game”), you’d be forgiven for seeing Cannes’ 63rd edition as the fest equivalent of a starlet on a no-croissant diet — especially after last year’s lineup, which was more auteur-heavy, if similarly Hollywood-light.

“The Cannes selection is a reflection of the current state of the industry,” says fest director Thierry Fremaux, who unveiled the lineup April 15. “Film is an industrial and economic art; film needs money. It’s as hard these days for the Hollywood super-productions as it is for arthouse films.”

The field boasts two Palme d’Or winners (Mike Leigh, Abbas Kiarostami); a handful of vet auteurs long absent from the race (Takeshi Kitano, Bertrand Tavernier, Nikita Mikhalkov); and a smattering of newcomers, including two, Chad’s Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and Ukraine’s Sergei Loznitsa, whose countries had never been invited before.

Reinforcing the studio/art dichotomy, most of the fest’s big Hollywood players will screen out of competition: Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” and Ridley Scott’s opening-night pic, “Robin Hood.” Still, at least one helmer reportedly was none too pleased to be left out of the Palme contest: Julian Schnabel, who won the 2007 fest’s directing prize for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” declined an out-of-competition berth for his “Miral.” Well, that’s one way to show a director the d’Or.

Jordan Mintzer and Elsa Keslassy in Paris contributed to this report.

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