Ardant steps behind camera with 'Ashes'


French screen diva Fanny Ardant will make her directing debut with the family drama "Ashes and Blood," produced by Paolo Branco's Alfama Films.

Ardant, who appears in the Competition title "Il Divo," from Italian helmer Paolo Sorrentino, also wrote the screenplay.

"It's a very personal story about blood ties in a clan, with a Shakespearian feel," Branco said.

Budgeted at about €3 million ($4.6 million), French pay TV channel Canal Plus already has bought the film.

Branco will share the spotlight in Cannes today as Portuguese veteran Manoel de Oliveira, who celebrates his 100th birthday in December, is honored at the Lumiere Theatre.

Branco has produced no fewer than 11 de Oliveira movies that have unspooled on the Croisette, including six In Competition, most recently in 2002 with "The Uncertainty Principle."

"I'm delighted at this tribute, which is more than merited," Branco said.

Branco also is reteaming with another veteran director and Cannes regular, Chilean-born Raoul Ruiz.

Branco also is in talks for a name director for the $15 million-$20 million adaptation of Don Delillo's novel "Cosmopolis." (partialdiff)