‘Blindness’ to open Cannes

'What Just Happened' will close festival

Brazilian Fernando Meirelles’ “Blindness” and Barry Levinson’s “What Just Happened?” will bookend the 61st Cannes Film Festival, the fest org announced Tuesday.

Adding more Yank heft to the Competition, Cannes has added James Gray’s “Two Lovers,” while Brit director Steve McQueen’s “Hunger” will open Un Certain Regard.

Opening Cannes on May 14, and playing in Competition, “Blindness” stars Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover and Gael Garcia Bernal in a thriller about a city succumbing to an epidemic of blindness.

Miramax took U.S. domestic rights to “Blindness” in September; Focus handles international.

Cannes’ Official Selection lineup was unveiled by delegate general Thierry Fremaux on April 23 in Paris.

Another title, Barry Levinson’s Hollywood satire “What Just Happened?,” has been officially selected to close Cannes on May 25, when its star, Robert De Niro, will present this year’s Palme d’Or.

Co-starring Bruce Willis, Robin Wright Penn and John Turturro, pic could bring more star wattage to the Croisette, as should Gray’s “Two Lovers.” That romantic drama toplines Joaquin Phoenix as an aspiring photographer and Gwyneth Paltrow as the attractive girl next door.

“Lovers,” sold by Wild Bunch and 2929, was produced by Wild Bunch, which also takes a production credit with Tribeca/Linson Films on “What Just Happened?”

“Lovers” will contend with another newly announced Palme d’Or candidate, “Entre les murs,” by Laurent Cantet, best known for his unemployment critique “Time Out.”

“Murs” is the third French film in Competition promised by Fremaux last Wednesday.

“Hunger” is an impressionistic interpretation of the last six weeks in the life of Bobby Sands, the IRA hunger striker who died in the Maze prison in 1981.

The Official Competition Jury, headed by Sean Penn, will have two new members: French actress Jeanne Balibar (“Va savoir”) and Iran-born author-director Marjane Satrapi, who returns to Cannes after having shared its jury prize for “Persepolis” last year.

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