Competition counts

A film's position can make all the difference

When it comes to Cannes, ranking is everything, from the color of your badge to — especially — what section your film screens in. Having a film In Competition grants full bragging rights, while screening in Un Certain Regard or Critics Week can bring with it the taint of a consolation prize.

"Being In Competition really makes all the difference," said Roman Paul, co-producer of Ari Folman's Competition entry "Waltz With Bashir." "Competition films get all the attention and all the press."

Competing in — and winning — Cannes' main event certainly made all the difference for Cristian Mungiu. Overnight, the Palme d'Or turned the Romanian director of "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" into international cinema's next big thing.

But how valuable, really, is that prized Competition slot? It's certainly no guarantee of boxoffice success. Last year's crowd-pleaser "The Band's Visit," which screened in Un Certain Regard, outperformed "4 Months" in worldwide ticket sales. Opening the Directors' Fortnight sidebar didn't stop Anton Corbijn's "Control" from becoming a crossover success. Oscar winner "The Lives of Others," arguably the most successful foreign-language title of the past few years, had only a lowly Cannes market screening for a launching pad.

Pamela Rolfe, Gregg Goldstein and Stuart Kemp contributed to this report.
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