Americans strong In Competition

Wong Kar Wai opens fest with English-language 'Nights'

The Festival de Cannes will be ringing in its 60th birthday with what promises to be a star-studded, U.S.-heavy official lineup as organizers announced the schedule Thursday (HR 4/20).

The festival will open with Wong Kar Wai's "My Blueberry Nights," from StudioCanal, finally putting to bed speculation that the director's first English-language title, which will be distributed in the U.S. by the Weinstein Co., wouldn't be finished in time for a Cannes slot.

This year's lineup is a heady mix of fest vets and fresh faces after last year's slate introduced a lot of newcomers. Of the 22 films In Competition, 13 are from directors who have never before vied for the Palme d'Or.

Returning to Cannes are Palme d'Or winners Joel and Ethan Coen with "No Country for Old Men," a Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage production, and Gus Van Sant with "Paranoid Park." Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino is scheduled to bring a version of "Death Proof" to the Competition lineup. The new version was created specifically for the festival and is different from the "Grindhouse" cut Dimension Films released stateside this month.

In this year's Out of Competition category, Brit Michael Winterbottom is the sole U.K. flagwaver, returning to Cannes for the sixth time with Paramount Vantage's Angelina Jolie starrer "A Mighty Heart."

Steven Soderbergh is back with his much-anticipated star-powered sequel "Ocean's Thirteen" (Warner Bros. Pictures) and Michael Moore returns with his expectedly controversial health care documentary "Sicko" (the Weinstein Co.).

David Fincher's "Zodiac," a Paramount/Warner Bros. co-production previously tipped to be the closing film, also will cross the Atlantic to compete for the fest's top prize.

While the American faces in Official Selection are recognizable, the selection committee opted for some Gallic filmmakers never before seen In Competition, including Catherine Breillat for "An Old Mistress" and Christophe Honore for "The Love Songs."

Julian Schnabel is bringing "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," while the black-and-white cartoon "Persepolis," which Sony Pictures Classics will release stateside, will animate the Competition category.

The full In Competition and Un Certain Regard lineups are at www.hollywoodreporter.com.
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