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Cannes Opening Night Film: Director Addresses Controversy About Two Cuts

Controversies over showing the director’s cut of a film is familiar turf at the Cannes Film Festival — remember Harvey Weinstein vs. “Grace of Monaco”?

But at the press conference on Wednesday afternoon for this year’s opening night selection, “Ismael’s Ghosts,” director Arnaud Desplechin tried to downplay reports that his version isn’t premiering at the festival.

The extended cut of the film, which is 20 minutes longer, will only screen for now at Paris’ Cinema du Pantheon, owned by producer Pascal Caucheteux. Jean Labadie’s banner Le Pacte will release the version that’s showing in Cannes in French theaters. Magnolia Pictures, which is distributing the film in the United States, still hasn’t decided which version to show.

“This is an idea that dates from a long time ago,” Desplechin said. “It was a proposal by the producer. We were looking at the situation … There aren’t actually two films. There’s the original version and the one you saw. The original one is a more intellectual one. The version you saw is the more sentimental one.”

In the film that’s screening at Cannes, there’s more of a love triangle between the film’s protagonist, a temper-tantrum throwing director (Mathieu Amalric) who is torn between the ghost of his former lover (Marion Cotillard) and his pregnant girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

Cotillard said that she felt drawn to the ghost based on the feeling of the script. “I felt that I had really understood the character when I understood how she breathed. The way someone breathes dictates the way the person speaks or behaves, the way that person is physically or psychologically,” Cotillard said.

When asked later by a journalist how she viewed aging in a parable about mortality, Cotillard brushed that question aside. “I don’t really know what to say. I’ll pass if you don’t mind.”

But she was more candid about a theme that always bubbles up at Cannes: the role of women in the film industry. “I’ve met more men in my life as an actress than women,” Cotillard said. “I’d like things to change, actually. I would love to be in more films with women.”

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