Cannes picks eclectic mix

Film fest lineup dances to a Latin beat

See Cannes Lineup

Al Gore will be rubbing elbows with Wolverine and Tom Hanks at the 59th Cannes Film Festival, where Latin cinema will be well represented alongside a bevy of French and American pics.

The eclectic mix includes Gore’s global warming docu; blockbusters like “X-Men: The Last Stand” and Hanks starrer “The Da Vinci Code”; and a pair of pics from Richard Linklater, the first filmmaker within memory to have two movies simultaneously on the Croisette.

Thursday’s unveiling of the official lineup for the May 17-28 event confirms many titles that had been bruited (Daily Variety, April 5), with a careful mix of Riviera favorites (Pedro Almodovar, Ken Loach, Nanni Moretti, Aki Kaurismaki) and new-to-Cannes names of the sort sought by artistic director Thierry Fremaux.

Out-of-competition screenings will include Davis Guggenheim’s ecology-themed “An Inconvenient Truth,” the global-warming doc featuring Gore, and “Boffo! Tinseltown’s Bombs and Blockbusters,” an HBO documentary that features Variety (see separate story).

Other pics repping the U.S. this year include Fox’s “X-Men: The Last Stand,” DreamWorks toon “Over the Hedge” and the previously announced fest opener, Sony’s “The Da Vinci Code.”

Speaking of the Gore docu, Fremaux said, “There are a number of films suggesting this planet is in danger, and this film says it in a totally explicit way.”

Other visions of U.S. reality will be served up by Paul Greengrass’ Tribeca Film Festival opener “United 93,” about one of the planes hijacked on 9/11, and Linklater’s in-competition “Fast Food Nation,” about Mexicans working in a fast-food meat factory in Colorado.

Linklater’s Keanu Reeves starrer “A Scanner Darkly,” an Orange County-set paranoia thriller based on a Philip K. Dick novel, will be in Un Certain Regard.

“Donnie Darko” helmer Richard Kelly’s ensembler “Southland Tales,” set during a Los Angeles heat wave in 2008, is another competition title.

Geographically, the standout phenomenon this year is the heavy Latin presence across every section, to the detriment of Asian fare.

“Apart from the emergence of films from central Europe — Poland, Hungary and Lithuania — I’m not sure there’s a wider trend,” said Fremaux, co-hosting a press conference at Paris’ Grand Hotel with vet prexy Gilles Jacob and new managing director Catherine Demier.

Fremaux would not be drawn on the absence of Darren Aronofsky’s widely tipped Cannes contender “The Fountain.”

“The festival can’t have every film,” he said enigmatically, adding that the fest’s selection committees screened more than 1,500 pics this year.

Word around Hollywood, however, is that Fremaux offered the film a noncompeting slot, which Aronofsky and Warner Bros., wanting competition or nothing, declined.

As ever, the competition — back to its 2004 size at 19 films — features a smattering of widely expected auteur names, including Almodovar with “Volver”; Moretti with “The Caiman”; Loach with another politically charged pic, the Irish Republican-themed “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”; Kaurismaki with “Lights at the Edge of the City”; and competition newcomer Sofia Coppola with “Marie-Antoinette.”

“The idea is to show that artists can be concerned by the epoch they are living in and engage in political or philosophical struggles,” Fremaux said. “Ken Loach and Sofia Coppola are recounting historical stories that tell us something about today.”

Alongside Almodovar and Moretti, fest will showcase competition pics “Pan’s Labyrinth,” by Guillermo del Toro; fellow Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s English-language “Babel,” starring Brad Pitt (who may or may not attend depending on the birth of his baby with Angelina Jolie); Italian Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Family Friend”; and Portuguese minimalist Pedro Costa’s “Youth on the March.”

France has three pics in competition, Bruno Dumont’s “Flanders,” about French soldiers in the Gulf War; Nicole Garcia’s “Charlie Says”; and Xavier Giannoli’s “When I Was a Singer,” starring Gerard Depardieu as a small-time crooner.

Two other French-language films are competing: Algerian helmer Rachid Bouchareb’s “Days of Glory,” about North Africans who fought for France during WWII, and Belgian helmer Lucas Belvaux’s “The Weakest Is Always Right.”

The second British competing entry, along with the Loach pic, is Andrea Arnold’s “Red Road.” Helmer won an Oscar for her 2004 short “Wasp.”

“Flanders,” “Youth on the March” and Turkish entry “Climates,” by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, rep the competition’s more hard-core arthouse vein.

“Once we knew we had the great masters, we wanted to ensure the competition also reflected younger, more radical elements. We want to take risks and open up to a more radical cinema d’auteur,” Fremaux remarked.

Only one Asian pic, “Summer Palace,” by Chinese helmer Lou Ye, made it into competition.

Romance languages — French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian — are all over Un Certain Regard, which has 27 titles this year, up from 23 last year.

Section will open with the multiple-helmed “Paris, je t’aime,” made up of episodes devoted to every Parisian arrondissement. Un Certain Regard has moved away from a lineup heavy with established auteurs, as in 2005, Fremaux said, and contains seven first features, although Italian vet Marco Bellocchio makes an appearance with “The Wedding Director” as does Rolf de Heer with “Ten Canoes,” set among Australia’s Aborigines.

“It is a year for putting new names on the international cinema map,” he said, adding this year’s selection process went on right through to Wednesday afternoon. (Gallic industryites, always the last to know if their films have made it in, said they received calls late into the night.)

From other parts of the world, the section features leading Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho’s docu “Serambi,” about the after-effects of the tsunami disaster; Tajik helmer Djamshed Usmonov’s “To Get to Heaven First You Have to Die”; the Pang brothers’ commercial horror film “Re-Cycle,” from Hong Kong; up-and-coming Hungarian director Gyorgy Palfi’s grossout black comedy “Taxidermy”; and mainland Chinese helmer Wang Chao’s “Luxury Car.”

Titles likely to become a talking point — for better or for worse — on the Croisette include John Cameron Mitchell’s sex-replete “Shortbus,” receiving an out-of-competition midnight screening.

“I prefer to think of it as audacious,” Fremaux said. “We want to showcase filmmakers who have a style.”

Soccer fans will want to see Philippe Parreno and Douglas Gordon’s “Zidane, a Portrait of the 21st Century,” about French soccer star Zinedine Zidane.

As well as the usual short film competition, the official selection contains a handful of out-of-competition shorts by prestige auteurs, including Jane Campion’s “The Water Diary,” Gaspar Noe’s “Aids” and Francois Ozon’s “Curtain Raiser.”

Tony Gatlif’s “Transylvania” will close the festival May 28.

While Cannes organizers are saving their big surprises — and keeping their coffers filled — for next year’s 60th-anniversary bash, the Croisette will have the requisite dose of glitz, thanks to stars in town with movies and celeb jury members.

Fest prexy Gilles Jacob, presiding over Thursday’s press conference, named as the main competition jury members thesps Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Monica Bellucci, Helena Bonham Carter and China’s Ziyi Zhang, Argentine helmer Lucrecia Martel, French helmer Patrice Leconte and Palestinian helmer Elia Suleiman.

As previously announced, Wong Kar Wai will preside over the jury. His pic “In the Mood for Love” provided the poster for this year’s festival.

It’s the first time the Cannes jury has sported two Chinese filmmakers.

Monte Hellman will preside over the jury for Un Certain Regard, while Belgian helmers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who won the Palme d’Or last year with “L’Enfant,” will head up the Camera d’Or jury.

Gena Rowlands will give this year’s actor’s lesson; Sydney Pollack the director’s lesson; and Alexandre Desplat the film music lesson, in dialogue with his helming partner, Jacques Audiard.

An exhibition devoted to Sergei Eisenstein will showcase a collection of the filmmaker’s erotic drawings and three of his films, “October,” “Bezhin Meadow” and “Alexander Nevsky.”

Among other regular Cannes fixtures, the Atelier du Cinema, in its second year, will present 18 partially financed projects to potential co-producers. Tous les Cinemas du Monde will showcase a day each of movies from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Hong Kong, India, Morocco, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Thailand.

The Cannes Classics program of restored films won’t be announced until next week, but Fremaux unveiled the section’s docus about the history of cinema. Lineup includes French documaker Anne Feinsilber’s “Requiem for Billy the Kid,” produced by Jean-Jacques Beineix.

And the full lineup is…


“The Da Vinci Code,” U.S., Ron Howard (non-competing)

“Transylvania,” France, (non-competing)

“The Weakest Is Always Right,” Belgium-France, Lucas Belvaux
“Summer Palace,” China-France, Lou Ye
“Lights at the Edge of the City,” Finland, Aki Kaurismaki
“Flandres,” France, Bruno Dumont
“Selon Charlie,” France, Nicole Garcia
“Quand j’etais chanteur,” France, Xavier Giannoli
“Days of Glory,” France, Algeria, Rachid Bouchareb
“The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” Ireland-U.K., Ken Loach
“The Cayman,” Italy-France, Nanni Moretti
“The Family Friend,” Italy, Paolo Sorrentino
“Pan’s Labyrinth,” Mexico-Spain-U.S., Guillermo del Toro
“Youth on the March,” Portugal, Pedro Costa
“Volver,” Spain, Pedro Almodovar
“Climates,” Turkey, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
“Red Road,” U.K.-Denmark, Andrea Arnold
“Fast Food Nation,” U.K.-U.S, Richard Linklater
“Marie-Antoinette,” U.S., Sofia Coppola
“Southland Tales,” U.S., Richard Kelly
“Babel,” U.S.-Morocco, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu


“United 93,” U.S.-U.K., Paul Greengrass
“X-Men: The Last Stand,” U.S., Brett Ratner
“Over the Hedge,” U.S., Tim Johnson, Karey Kirkpatrick

“Election 2,” Hong Kong, Johnnie To
“Silk,” Taiwan, Su Chao-pin
“Shortbus,” U.S., John Cameron Mitchell

“Zidane, un portrait du 21e siecle,” France, Phillipe Parreno, Douglas Gordon
“These Girls,” France, Tahani Rached
“Avida,” France, Benoit Delepine
“Ici Najac, a vous la terre,” France, Jean-Henri Meunier
“Bamako,” France-Mauritania, Abderrahmane Sissako
“Volevo Solo Vivere,” Italy, Mimmo Calopresti
“Boffo: Tinseltown’s Bombs and Blockbusters,” U.S., Bill Couturie
“An Inconvenient Truth,” U.S., Davis Guggenheim

“Cronica de una fuga,” Argentina, Israel, Adrian Caetano
“Ten Canoes,” Australia, Rolf de Heer
“Surburban Mayhem,” Australia, Paul Goldman
“Luxury Car,” China, Wang Chao
“La tourneuse de pages,” France, Denis Dercourt
“La Californie,” France, Jacques Fieschi
“Meurtrieres,” France, Patrick Grandperret
“Paris, je t’aime,” France, 24 directors (opener)
“Bled Number One,” France-Algeria, Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche
“977,” France-Russia, Nikolay Khomeriki
“Re-cycle,” Hong Kong, Oxide Pang, Danny Pang
“Taxidermia,” Hungary, Gyorgy Palfi
“Serambi,” Indonesia, Garin Nugroho
“The Wedding Director,” Italy-France, Marco Bellocchio
“You Am I,” Lithuania, Kristijonas Vildziunas
“El violin,” Mexico, Francisco Vargas
“Uro,” Norway, Stefan Faldbakken
“Hamaca Paraguaya,” Paraguay, Paz Encina
“Z odzysku,” Poland, Slawomir Fabicki
“Cum Mi-am Petrecut Sfarsiful Lumii,” Romania, Catalin Mitulescu
“The Unforgiven,” South Korea, Yoon Jong-bin
“Salvador Puig Antich,” Spain, Manuel Huerga
“Bihisht Faqat Baroi Murdagon,” Tajikistan, Djamshed Usmonov
“A Scanner Darkly,” U.S., Richard Linklater

Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong director (president)
Monica Bellucci, Italian actress
Helena Bonham-Carter, English actress
Lucrecia Martel, Argentinean director
Zhang Ziyi, Chinese actress
Samuel L. Jackson, American actor
Patrice Leconte, French director
Tim Roth, English actor
Elia Suleiman, Palestinian director

Andrei Konchalovsky, Russian director (president)
Sandrine Bonnaire, French actress
Daniel Bruhl, German actor
Souleymane Cisse, Malian director
Zbigniew Preisner, Polish composer

Andrei Konchalovsky, Russian director (presi-dent)
Sandrine Bonnaire, French actress
Daniel Bruhl, German actor
Souleymane Cisse, Malian director
Zbigniew Preisner, Polish composer

“Primera Nieve,” Pablo Aguero
“Banquise,” Claude Barras, Cedric Louis
“Poyr,” Belma Bas
“Ongeriewe,” Robin Kleinsmidt
“Conte de Quartier,” Florence Miailhe
“Film Noir,” Parker Osbert
“Sniffer,” Bobbie Peers
“Sexy Thing,” Denie Pente-cost
“Nature’s Way,” Jane Shearer
“O Monstro,” Eduardo Valente

“The Water Diary,” Jane Campion
“Les signes,” Eugene Green
“Stanley’s Girlfriend,” Monte Hellman
“Sida,” Gaspar Noe
“Un lever de Rideau,” Francois Ozon