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‘Paris’ omnibus leaves off Varda

18 short pics debut at Cannes

CANNES — The red carpet will be swarming with talent for tonight’s Un Certain Regard opening preem “Paris, je t’aime,” a series of 18 short films from a plethora of helmers and actors.

Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuaron, Gena Rowlands, Juliette Binoche, Elijah Wood and Miranda Richardson will be among some 30 talents glad-handing on the Palais steps with fest prexy Gilles Jacob and co.

But Agnes Varda, one of the first contributors, won’t be among them. Her film “Le Lion volatile,” was pulled from the project in the middle of filming three years ago.

“They told me they’d changed the project and they no longer wanted French directors to be a part of it,” the New Wave heroine said Wednesday.

Varda went ahead anyway and finished the short film, starring Julie Depardieu and David Deciron as a couple who meet regularly under the Lion de Belfort statue on Paris’ Place Denfert Rochereau — down the road from Varda’s HQ — until one day the statue mysteriously disappears.

Pic screened in Paris and is now on a DVD of Varda’s films.

The auteur won’t be at Cannes this year because she is preparing for an exhibition of her video art, which opens in Paris next month.

Helmers Christoffer Boe and Rafael Najari also had their contributions to “Paris, je t’aime” nixed recently, so that now only 18 of Paris’ 20 arrondissements are featured in the ensembler.

Producer Claudie Ossard said the last two cuts were for length reasons, to trim the pic to a two-hour running time.

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