Wide range of views on Fortnight sked

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PARIS -- The Directors' Fortnight sidebar at this month's Festival de Cannes will be an international feast, with a strong French flavor and some tidbits from the U.S., organizers revealed Thursday.

The 23-strong lineup includes six Gallic titles and four U.S. imports alongside a selection of entrees from across the globe.

"This year, we've selected films that talk to emotions and deal with very intimate subjects," artistic director Olivier Pere said in an interview. "There are a lot of very personal, autobiographical stories tied to people's private lives. These are very poignant films that moved us deeply from an emotional point of view.

"Even more than last year, we were taken aback by the quality of first films. Most of the directors happen to be very young; we didn't do that on purpose, but it's a nice surprise," Pere said of a lineup that will feature nine first-time films.

U.S. fare for the sidebar includes "Chop Shop" by Iranian Ramin Bahrani, whose "Man Push Cart" played at the Venice and Sundance film festivals and won critical acclaim worldwide. "Chop Shop" follows an adolescent street orphan living and working in an auto-body repair shop on the outskirts of Queens.

Gregg Araki's "Smiley Face" stars Anna Faris as a young actress who unknowingly eats her roommate's pot brownies. The indie comedy received rave reviews from critics when it screened in January at Sundance, and Pere hopes the lighthearted humor will provide a nice contrast to the more somber feel of this year's Fortnight lineup.

"The selection might appear to be very sad, serious and affecting, so we were conscious to find at least two comedies -- two very funny films breaking completely with the tone of the selection," Pere said. Japan's Hitoshi Matsumoto provides the other half of the comedy equation with his parody "Dai Nipponjin."

Also crossing the Atlantic is Tom Kalin's "Savage Grace," an independent film co-produced with Spain. One of the first offspring of the Hanway Films-Celluloid Dreams merger, Dreamachine, the film stars Julianne Moore in the story of the 1972 Barbara Daly Baekeland murder case.

In his documentary "Zoo," Robinson Devor looks at the life of a Seattle man who died as a result of a sexual encounter with a horse. The movie, which also premiered at Sundance, is a mix of the audio testimonies and fictional, dreamlike visuals featuring professional actors and real-life subjects.

"The American films that we show at the Directors' Fortnight are usually independent, made outside of the studio system, experimental auteur films," Pere said. "And this year we have four films that we really love."

The sidebar also will play host to a special screening of a restored version of William Friedkin's 1980 film "Cruising," about a police detective who goes undercover in the underground gay subculture of New York to catch a serial killer.

Gallic titles include Serge Bozon's World War I drama "La France," which stars Sylvie Testud as a young woman who disguises herself as a man to find her husband.

"After Him," helmer Gael Morel's follow-up to "The Clan," stars Catherine Deneuve as a grieving mother obsessed with her son's friend, who is responsible for the car crash that killed him.

Actress Sandrine Bonnaire will present her directorial debut, "Her Name is Sabine," a very personal docu about her sister.

Nicolas Klotz is back at the Fortnight, after "The Wound" received critical acclaim in 2004, with "The Human Question," an adaptation of the Francois Emmanuel novel about a psychologist who discovers troubling links between Nazism and modern-day big business.

Young French actress-turned-Cahiers du Cinema critic-turned-director Mia Hansen-Love will present her first feature film "All is Forgiven," about a father and daughter who are reunited 11 years after the father's drug addiction tore the family apart.

And Jacques Nolot, a 1997 Fortnight participant with "L'Arriere Pays," brings his "Before I Forget," an intimate portrait of a 58-year-old man battling his inner demons on the search for self-discovery.

The sidebar also will screen restored versions of "Crin Blanc" and "Le Ballon Rouge" as part of an homage to director Albert Lamorisse.

The European influence will extend its reach over the French border with the opening-night film: Anton Corbijn's "Control" from the U.K. The black-and-white film starring Sam Riley, Samantha Morton and Alexandra Maria Lara centers on Ian Curtis, lead singer of '70s band Joy Division, who committed suicide at age 23.

"We received a lot of unexceptional films from the U.K. this year, but 'Control' is the best British film I've seen in the past few years," Pere said. "It's a movie that really avoids all the cliches of rock star films. It's very realistic, precise and magnificently acted."

Irish entry "Garage," from helmer Lenny Abrahamson, is a tragicomedy set in the world of gas stations in rural Ireland, where the misfit owner of the garage searches for intimacy during the course of a life-changing summer.

Jan Bonny's "Counterparts" from Germany follows a couple whose ostensibly perfect marriage slowly falls apart.

"O Estado do mundo" from Portugal presents six different worldviews from international helmers Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Vicente Ferraz, Ayisha Abraham, Wang Bing, Pedro Costa and Chantal Akerman.

Pedro Aguilera's "La Influencia" boosts an impressive Latin presence on the Croisette this year, with Spanish-language titles dominating the Critics' Week sidebar. Colombia is sending first-time director Spiros Stathoulopoulos' "PVC-1." Shot completely in real time, the film is based on the true story of a woman who becomes the victim of a bizarre act of terrorism and is turned into a human time bomb. Brazilian director Sandra Kogut will close the sidebar May 27 with her coming-of-age story "Mutum."

Also making their way to the Croisette this year are two female Lebanese directors. Nadine Labaki will present Lebanese-French co-production "Caramel," a lighthearted romantic comedy that follows five Lebanese women going about their daily lives in Beirut, and Danielle Arbid will show "A Lost Man," starring Melvil Poupaud as a globetrotting French photographer who crosses paths with a man who disappeared 17 years ago from Beirut.

The international potpourri continues with Semih Kaplanoglu's Turkish-Greek co-production "Yumurta," the first part of a planned trilogy about a poet and a young girl living in his mother's house who find themselves drawn together.

As with the rest of the festival, Asian films are a clear minority in the Fortnight, with Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's "Ploy" and Brillante Mendoza's "Foster Child" from the Philippines joining Matsumoto's "Nipponjin" in the sidebar.

The sidebar runs May 17-27.

The complete lineup follows:

FEATURE-LENGTH FILMS:

"Apres lui" (After Him)
Director: Gael Morel, France

"Avant que j'oublie" (Before I Forget)
Director: Jacques Nolot, France

"Caramel"
Director: Nadine Labaki, Lebanon/France

"Chop Shop"
Director: Ramin Bahrani, U.S.

"Control"
Director: Anton Corbijn, U.K. (OPENING FILM)

"Dai Nipponjin"
Director: Hitosi Matsumoto, Japan

"Elle s'appelle Sabine" (Her Name is Sabine)
Director: Sandrine Bonnaire, France

"O Estado do mundo"
Directors: Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Vicente Ferraz, Ayisha Abraham, Wang Bing, Pedro Costa, Chantal Akerman, Portugal

"Foster Child"
Director: Brillante Mendoza, Philippines

"La France" (France)
Director: Serge Bozon, France

"Garage"
Director: Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland

"Gegenueber" (Counterparts)
Director: Jan Bonny, Germany

"Un Homme perdu" (A Lost Man)
Director: Danielle Arbid, Lebanon

"La Influencia"
Director: Pedro Aguilera, Mexico/Spain

"Mutum"
Director: Sandra Kogut, Brazil (CLOSING FILM)

"PVC-1"
Director: Spiros Stathoulopoulos, Columbia

"Ploy"
Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Thailand

"La Question humaine" (The Human Question)
Director: Nicolas Klotz, France

"Savage Grace"
Director: Tom Kalin, U.S./Spain

"Smiley Face"
Director: Gregg Araki, U.S.

"Tout est pardonnee" (All is Forgiven)
Director: Mia Hansen-Love, France

"Yumurta"
Director: Semih Kaplanoglu, Turkey/Greece

"Zoo"
Director: Robinson Devor, U.S.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

"Cruising"
Director: William Friedkin, U.S. (Restored Version)

Homage to Albert Lamorisse:
"Crin Blanc"
Director: Albert Lamorisse, France (restored version)

"Le Ballon Rouge"
Director: Albert Lamorisse, France (restored version)

SHORT FILMS

Program 1
"Silencio"
Director: F.J. Ossang, France

"Candy Boy"
Director: Pascal-Alex Vincent, France

"Avant petalos grillados"
Director: Velasco Broca, Spain

"SuperDONG"
Director: Pok Yue Weng, Singapore

"Entracte"
Director: Yann Gonzalez, France

"China, China"
Director: Joao Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal

Program 2
"Meme pas mort"
Director: Claudine Natkin, France

"Hoguera"
Director: Andres Baiz, Colombia

"Tel pere, telle fille"
Director: Sylvie Ballyot, France

"Mota Shel Shula"
Director: Asaf Korman, Israel
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