Cannes eyes 'Blueberry,' 'Zodiac' for prime slots


PARIS -- Months of conjecture surrounding the Festival de Cannes lineup will come to an end Thursday as organizers unveil the festival's 2007 lineup.

Wong Kar Wai's "My Blueberry Nights," which the Weinstein Co. will release in the U.S., looks as if it will be completed in time to fill the high-profile opening-night slot May 16, while David Fincher's "Zodiac," a Paramount Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures co-production, is rumored as the festival closer on May 27.

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's "Grindhouse," Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's Thirteen," James Gray's "We Own the Night" and the Coen brothers' "No Country for Old Men" are locked, and Michael Winterbottom's "A Mighty Heart" is set to premiere May 21 in Cannes.

The U.S.-heavy lineup awaits final confirmation on front-runner "Paranoid Park" by fest veteran Gus Van Sant.

Michael Moore will most likely be making it back to the Croisette with his health care documentary "Sicko," following the director's Palme d'Or win in 2004 for "Fahrenheit 9/11." Paulo Morelli's "City of Men" (the sequel to Fernando Meirelles' "City of God") and Harmony Korine's "Mister Lonely" also are anticipated.

As usual, the French are taking their time to secure festival slots, but it looks as if the black-and-white animated film "Persepolis" will be a contender. Claude Miller's "Un Secret" and Alain Corneau's "Le deuxieme souffle" are still in the running, and U.S. director Julian Schnabel's French production "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is poised to ring on the Croisette.

Although originally rumored as a possible Gallic addition to the In Competition section, Cedric Klapisch's "Paris" won't be finished in time to screen at the fest.

Catherine Breillat may be back in Cannes with her latest, "Une Vieille Maitresse," after she shocked the Croisette in 2001 with "Fat Girl."

"La Graine et le mullet," Abdel Kechiche's follow-up to the 2006 Cesar Award-winning "L'Esquive," also is a likely contender.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's sophomore film, "Actress," will most likely be given a slot in Un Certain Regard sidebar, but the Italian actress-turned-helmer is still hoping for an official Competition nod.

Gallic production company Margo Films has high expectations for its recently completed "Boarding Gate" from Olivier Assayas and Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien's "Ballon Rouge," which stars Juliette Binoche.

Turkish-German helmer Fatih Akin's "Yasamin Kiyisinda" has been generating a lot of positive buzz and is probable for Competition. German Hans Weingartner's "Free Rainer," however, won't be finished in time. The U.K.-German documentary "Planet Earth" will most likely not be In Competition but is a likely choice for official selection.

From Italy, Ermanno Olmi's "Cento Chiodi" looks firm for an Out of Competition slot, while Daniele Luchetti's "Mio Fratello e Figlio Unico" is the country's top candidate to compete for the Palme d'Or. Mimmo Calopresti's "L'abbuffata," which stars Gerard Depardieu as himself, is said to be headed for Un Certain Regard. Marco Risi's "Maradonna, the Hand of God" also is awaiting confirmation of a world premiere, and Serbia's Emir Kusturica -- the 2005 jury president -- might be back at the Palais des Festivals with his latest feature, "Promise Me This."

The lineup also is rumored to include Latin American flavor such as the Mexican pics "El Pasado," from director Hector Babenco, and "Silent Light," from Carlos Reygadas. Canadian filmmaker Denys Arcand's "L'Age des Tenebres" is looking like it will fit the bill as well.

Popular Korean director Kim Ki-duk is tipped to make it to Cannes with his new movie "Breath," with fellow Korean helmers Lee Chang-dong and Im Kwon-taek hoping to secure a place In Competition with "Secret Sunshine" and "Across the Years" respectively.

Other best bets from Asia include Jiang Wen's "The Sun Also Rises" and Wang Xiaoshuai's "Left Right" from China, Takeshi Kitano's "Kantoku Banzai" and Shinji Aoyama's "Sad Vacation" from Japan and "Triangle," a three-part action movie directed by Hong Kong filmmakers Tsui Hark, Johnnie To and Ringo Lam.

Ashutosh Gowariker's "Jodha Akbar," starring Aishwarya Rai, is expected to represent India, possibly as part of a special section celebrating the 60th anniversary of Indian independence.

Notably lacking from the final contenders are U.K. titles, with jury president Stephen Frears possibly the lone rep from his territory, though Sarah Gavron's "Brick Lane" and Anthony Byrne's "How About You" have not been ruled out.

Official picks will be announced at a news conference Thursday at the Hotel Crillon in Paris.
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