'Basterds' children at Cannes

Pitt, Jolie at premiere of Tarantino flick; IFC buys 'Antichrist,' 'Eric'

The Festival de Cannes on Wednesday got much-needed art house and star-power boosts. IFC provided the former, scoring two of the most talked-about movies that have played the festival: Ken Loach's soccer-star comedy "Looking for Eric" and Lars von Trier's drama-cum-horror pic "Antichrist."

Several hours later, the fest finally saw something it had lacked to date: a superstar-laden premiere. Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino walked — or, in Tarantino's case, danced — down the red carpet for the premiere of their World War II action comedy "Inglourious Basterds," which the Weinstein Co. is releasing.

Pitt, accompanied by Angelina Jolie, created a stir inside and outside the Palais. As throngs packed the area outside, claps went up inside the theater when the couple was shown from the red carpet on a closed-circuit feed.

Tarantino then took the chance to ham it up, as one of Cannes' favorite fils did a series of extended dance moves on the carpet by himself and with French actress and "Basterds" co-star Melanie Laurent.

The movie then played to raucous cheering, with crowds giving Tarantino an eight-minute standing ovation, sizable by Cannes standards.

The reception for the WWII tale was hardly a complete surprise: Tarantino has been a favorite on the Croisette since "Reservoir Dogs" premiered in 1992 and "Pulp Fiction" won the Palme d'Or in 1994.

Still, it was a critical first step in the movie's release strategy.

In August, the Weinstein Co. will go wide with the pic — which faces marketing hurdles at 21/2 hours long, with large chunks in non-English languages — and hopes to capitalize on the momentum of the Cannes debut to spur boxoffice.

Earlier in the day, the largely dormant acquisitions market came to life courtesy of one company.

Rainbow Media division IFC Films' created a stir of its own when the company said that it had picked up von Trier's "Antichrist," the most notorious debut of the festival.

"Since it premiered at Cannes on Monday, we haven't been able to stop talking or thinking about 'Antichrist,' " IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring said.

With scenes in which a grieving couple bloodily brutalize each other, many felt von Trier stepped over the line.

In buying the pic, IFC solidified its relationship with the Danish director; it released his movies "The Boss of It All" and "Manderlay."

As for Loach's movie, it centers on a down-on-his-luck postman whose life turns around when he conjures up English soccer star Eric Cantona. Cantona stars as himself in the film, which brings a somewhat lighter tone than previous Loach films.

Loach's Palme d'Or-winning "Wind That Shakes the Barley" was acquired and released in 2006 by IFC as well.

The deals mean that IFC has picked up three movies from various Cannes sections, the most of any distributor. (partialdiff)
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