La Vie en ‘Rouge’

Pic expected to add celebratory buzz

Oz helmer Baz Luhrmann, a 1992 Cannes darling with his debut pic “Strictly Ballroom, will make an encore at the fest this year with rollicking cancan film “Moulin Rouge.” Pic opens the event in Competition.

The presence of the film’s high-profile cast, including Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, and its musical nature are likely to add a celebratory buzz to the fest’s opening days.

“This is the last of the red curtain films,” Luhrmann emphasizes on an L.A. stopover a couple of weeks before the fest. “It’s an audience participation film. The extended party is part of the film. (Kidman’s character) dies in the end and we have a wake. It’s meant to be more like going to church in a way. We gather and go through a storytelling and a solemnity, and then we have a celebration.”

Distrib Fox has quite a fete in store following the May 9 screening. The studio will mount a VIP soiree at La Pantiero esplanade near the Old Port in Cannes. British mix artist Fatboy Slim, featured on the “Moulin” soundtrack, will be spinning, and many, sans doute, will be doing the cancan.

Nearly a decade ago, Luhrmann’s “Strictly Ballroom” got a chance to be seen by international auds, and his return this year is a special honor, says the director.

“When the French say they discovered me and my real work, there is some truth to it,” he says, noting that “Strictly Ballroom” was shunned in Oz until it was selected to screen at Cannes and Luhrmann won the fest’s Prix Jeunesse. “At home, people were saying don’t give up your day job in the theater. In Cannes, we got a standing ovation and people followed us out on to the street, dancing.”

“For me Cannes is about being amidst the new cinematic languages, the birth of new ideas,” he adds enthusiastically, before jetting off to Sydney to finish the pic’s color timing and the credits.