Festival de Cannes unveils lineup

Official selection features many regulars

Critics Week lineup
Directors' Fortnight lineup
Full list of titles
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The 62nd Festival de Cannes is sending its old guard once more into the breach.

In what amounts to an auteur dream team, organizers have filled out this year's Competition section with a who's who of festival favorites, including Ang Lee, Pedro Almodovar, Quentin Tarantino, Lars von Trier, Johnnie To, Jane Campion and Michael Haneke.

But though the lineup is light on newcomers, festival chief Thierry Fremaux said the plethora of established talent doesn't mean the event is turning its back on fresh faces. "There are not many first films this year, but that doesn't mean that young cinema isn't represented," he said.

U.K. director Andrea Arnold ("Red Road") will arrive with her sophomore directorial outing, "Fish Tank," for example. There also is a strong Asian presence in the 52-film lineup, including new entries from Korea's Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho.

But this year's slate, which unspools May 13-24, is seen by some as one of safe bets.

"It looks like Cannes decided to go with the big names and veterans of the festival and not try for younger filmmakers as it has in the past," said Mariette Rissenbeek, deputy GM of German Films.

Of course, many major festivals stick with favorites; certainly, Berlin and Sundance do. But while loyalty can be a good thing in the rough-and-tumble film world, it does raise a question whether Cannes is becoming less of a festival of discovery. Organizers can rightly point to the Critics Week and Directors' Fortnight sidebars as areas where newcomers can shine, but no one will claim the spotlight beams as brightly on those films. The Palais is where critics and journalists jam news conferences and jostle aggressively to get into screenings.

If a lineup of veteran auteurs produces anything like the vintage year of 2002 -- when Roman Polanski, Marco Bellocchio, Michael Winterbottom, Abbas Kiarostami, Manoel de Oliveira and Mike Leigh, joined by such newcomers as Elia Suleiman and Fernando Meirelles -- gave the cinema world one of its great festivals, then everyone will be happy. But if, as has happened more often than not in recent years, the veterans lay a few eggs, expect a chorus of critics to sing out about Cannes' clubbiness.

The opulence level might be down as well in this year of financial crisis thanks to a lessened U.S. studio presence and all-around cost-cutting. But Fremaux said: "The festival itself isn't directly affected by the crisis, but that doesn't mean that we live outside of the world. Of course, we're conscious that the crisis is there. We like to think, at the Festival de Cannes, that cinema can change the world. So we're going to try to save the world."

Festival duo Gilles Jacob and Fremaux detailed the Cannes lineup at a news conference Thursday in Paris.

The invitations include the expected Competition slot for Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," the Brad Pitt starrer that the Weinstein Co. releases Aug. 19 in the U.S. Its Cannes bow could see the return of the movie's star Brad Pitt to the red carpet. Tarantino won the Palme d'Or in 1994 for "Pulp Fiction."

Fellow Palme d'Or winner von Trier will bring the horror drama "Antichrist," which stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a couple who retreat to a cabin deep in the forest after their son dies.

The London-based, New Zealand-born Campion -- another Palme d'Or winner -- comes with literary biopic "Bright Star," featuring Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish. The U.K. title revolves around 19th century poet John Keats and his love affair with Fanny Brawne.

Also flying the British flag will be recent Palme d'Or recipient Ken Loach, who travels to the Croisette with "Looking for Eric," about a troubled young soccer fan obsessed with French soccer sensation Eric Cantona.

Elsewhere In Competition, Almodovar will unspool his melodrama "Broken Embraces," which Sony Pictures Classics opens stateside in November. The film stars Almodovar's frequent muse, Penelope Cruz. Fellow Spaniard Isabel Coixet will be on hand with "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo," which she wrote and directed.

Almodovar said he is pleased that festival organizers decided to include a healthy dose of Spanish fare.

"Against all prognoses, this year there are three Spanish films in the official selection," he said. "The Cannes film festival has never been very generous with Spanish cinema, though I can't complain," Almodovar said. "But this year, the curse has been broken, which is a very positive symptom of the vitality of our cinema."

Lee's "Taking Woodstock" also makes the lineup after a last-minute screening locked the film into Fremaux's list. Set against the backdrop of the famed 1969 music concert, the movie, which Focus will release Aug. 14 in the U.S., stars Demetri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Liev Schreiber and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

The film will vie for the Palme with Hong Kong helmer To's French-made "Vengeance," which stars pop singer Johnny Hallyday as a hit man out to avenge his daughter's death.

Palestinian director Elia Suleiman will premiere "The Time That Remains," a family saga spanning the 1940s to the present day. Haneke will head to Cannes with his black-and-white drama "The White Ribbon," about fascism in a German school in 1913.

Malaysian auteur Tsai Ming-liang brings the French-financed "Visage," about a Taiwanese director arriving in Paris to make a film about Salome. The film stars Mathieu Amalric, Jeanne Moreau, Fanny Ardant, Nathalie Baye, Laetitia Casta and Jean-Pierre Leaud.

This year, France is repped In Competition by Alain Resnais' "Les herbes folles," Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet" and Xavier Giannoli's "In the Beginning," which stars Emmanuelle Devos, Francois Cluzet and Gerard Depardieu.

Gaspar Noe also is back in Cannes, with his Japan-shot "Enter the Void."

Also adding to the Asian presence this year, Chinese director Lou Ye will present "Spring Fever," and "Old Boy" director Park will be back on the Croisette with a Competition slot for "Thirst," his take on the vampire genre.

Despite cost-cutting throughout the film world, high-profile casts are still expected to venture to the Croisette to promote their films. Interest surrounding Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" should be intense. The film, screening Out of Competition, features Heath Ledger in his final performance, along with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law, who stepped in to help Gilliam complete the project.

Disney/Pixar's animated 3-D feature "Up" was announced last month as the opening-night film. The festival will close with a fashion frenzy as Jan Kounen presents his Chanel biopic "Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky."

Midnight screenings include Sam Raimi's horror film "Drag Me to Hell," Marina de Van's "Ne te retourne pas" and Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar's "A Town Called Panic."

Set to join president Isabelle Huppert on the Competition jury are Italian actress-director Asia Argento, Turkish helmer Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-Dong, U.S. director James Gray, U.K. novelist-screenwriter Hanif Kureishi, Taiwanese actress Shu Qi and American actress Robin Wright Penn.

Always looking to modernize, Jacob announced plans to post the first five minutes of all films on the Festival de Cannes Web site this year.

"We hope that Internet users, leaving their consoles and GameBoys behind, will be tempted to rush into the closest movie theater to discover the rest," he said.

Click HERE for list of titles and juries for the 62nd Festival de Cannes.
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