Cannes prez pleads for Belgian archive

Scorsese, others protest gov't fund cutoff

PARIS — Cannes Film Fest prexy Gilles Jacob has pleaded for aid for a valuable film archive whose $1.5 million annual budget was axed last month.

Founded in 1938, Belgium’s Royal Cinematheque houses many irreplaceable prints, including 100 American silent films that don’t exist in any U.S. archive, and runs a museum, restoration program and daily screenings.

“Without meddling in the internal affairs of a country,” Jacob declared during Thursday’s press conference to announce the official Cannes lineup, “I must underline the importance of the Cinematheque Royale, whose very existence is threatened.”

The Royal Cinematheque became an abrupt victim of governmental restructuring last month when funding was cut off. The institution must apply to the Lottery for cash every four months.

Industryites including helmer Martin Scorsese have sent letters of protest to the Belgium government.

Films held in Regard

Meanwhile, three more titles have been added to the Cannes Film Festival sidebar Un Certain Regard: Francesca Comencini’s “The Words of My Father” (“Le parole di mio padre”), which will close the section May 19, Stanley Kwan’s “Beijing Story” (“Lu yu”) and Emmanuelle Bercot’s “Clement.” Comencini’s feature (previously known as “The Third Act”), starring Fabrizio Rongione and Chiara Mastroianni, is a contemporary update of two chapters in Italo Svevo’s modern classic “Confessions of Zeno,” about a 30-year-old’s emotional odyssey.

Kwan’s gay-themed pic set in the Chinese capital centers on an affair between a mainlander and Hong Kongese.

Additions bring the sidebar’s title tally to 24. The Cannes fest runs May 9-20.