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Gossip Heats Up Over Which Auteurs Will Make the Cut at Cannes

Serious fest watchers have been chattering for months about the bounty of strong titles likely to appear on the Croisette

In 2012, the announcement of the Cannes Film Festival lineup arrived later than usual, in the first week of April. This year, serious fest watchers, which includes filmmakers, sales agents and the global film press, have been chattering for months about the bounty of strong titles that are likely to appear on the Croisette this May, even though it appears any news about the lineup may even be later in coming.

Reflecting the tension and mood of anticipation that precedes the annual French feast, one filmmaker whose pic may snag a 2013 Cannes berth observes, “(Fest organizers) have played it very close to the vest this year. They announced the head of the jury later than usual, and apparently no one has heard a peep. Who knows? It’s nuts!”

But that hasn’t stopped educated guesses from being tossed around in the media. Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” (pictured above) has been tipped for competition, while Steven Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra” — which stars Michael Douglas as Liberace — also is expected to bow on the Croisette. And since Cannes is well-known as a home to global auteurs who have competed previously, speculation has centered on such stalwarts as the Coen brothers (“Inside Llewyn Davis”), Alexander Payne (“Nebraska”), Arnaud Desplechin (“Jimmy Picard”), James Gray (“Lowlife”), Lee Daniels (“The Butler”) and Steve McQueen (“Twelve Years a Slave”).

(From the pages of the March 26 issue of Variety.)

Lars Von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” has been mentioned as a possible competition pic, but the helmer’s status with Cannes officials is unclear after his banning from the festival in 2011. Nicolas Winding Refn won best director at Cannes in 2011 with “Drive” and was finishing “Only God Forgives” a few months back, suggesting that he’s been holding the pic for the fest. The bonus for Cannes and its sponsors is that most of those titles feature major international stars and red carpet eye candy such as Amy Adams, Carey Mulligan, Matt Damon, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Marion Cotillard, Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake.

One of the high-profile fest scores in the offing is Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past,” his first film shot outside Iran and first pic after Oscar-winner “A Separation.” Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim star.

Also at the center of speculation are Paolo Sorrentino’s satirical “La grande bellezza” (“The Great Beauty”) set amid Rome’s decadent contempo glitterati society and starring Toni Servillo (“Il divo”), which would turn up in the competition. If loud chatter is accurate, Daniele Luchetti’s semi-autobiographical “Storia mitologica della mia famiglia” (“Mythological Story of My Family”) would show out of competition.

One sales-company source who has seen the Coens’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” based in the New York folk music scene of the 1960s, sees it as “a lock,” while describing Refn’s film as “very odd and very violent. But then that’s what may propel it into the festival.”

(Peter Debruge and Nick Vivarelli contributed to this report.)

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