'Blueberry Nights' opens Festival de Cannes

Tarantino, Soderbergh among U.S. entries

PARIS -- The Festival de Cannes will be ringing in its 60th anniversary with what promises to be a star-studded, U.S.-heavy official lineup as organizers announced the schedule Thursday.

The Riviera-set shindig will open with Wong Kar Wai's "My Blueberry Nights," finally putting to bed speculation that the director's first English-language film wouldn't be finished in time for a Cannes slot.

This year's lineup is a heady mix of fest vets and fresh faces after last year's lineup introduced a lot of newcomers. Of the 22 films In Competition, 13 are from directors who have never before vied for the Palme d'Or.

The lineup features a potpourri of international talent and, according to the festival's artistic director Thierry Fremaux: "It's becoming more and more difficult to say what nationality each film is."

Returning to Cannes are previous Palme d'Or winners the Coen brothers with "No Country for Old Men" and Gus Van Sant with "Paranoid Park." Meanwhile, Quentin Tarantino is scheduled to bring to the Competition lineup a version of "Death Proof" the helmer created specifically for the festival that is different from the "Grindhouse" cut Dimension Films released stateside this month.

In this year's Out of Competition category Brit Michael Winterbottom is the sole U.K. flagwaver, returning to Cannes for the sixth time with Paramount Vantage's Angelina Jolie starrer "A Mighty Heart."

Steven Soderbergh is back with his much-anticipated star-powered "Ocean's Thirteen" (Warner Bros.) and Michael Moore with his expectedly controversial health care documentary "Sicko" (the Weinstein Co.).

With "Blueberry," "Sicko" and "Death Proof," the Weinstein Co. will have a particularly high profile at this year's fest.

"We are so proud to have three films premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in the Official Selection, especially these specific three films, which were all made by filmmakers who have a long history with the festival," Harvey Weinstein said. "We've never had this many films premiere in the Official Selection."

Said Moore, whose "Fahrenheit 9/11" took the Palme d'Or three years ago: "I'm honored to be asked again to Cannes. It's been a good luck charm for us and the perfect place to present our work to the rest of the world."

David Fincher's "Zodiac," a Paramount /Warner Bros. co-production previously tipped to be the closing film, also will cross the Atlantic to compete for the fest's top prize.

While the American faces in official selection are recognizable, the selection committee opted for Gallic filmmakers never before seen In Competition, including Catherine Breillat for "Une Vieille Maitresse" and Christophe Honore for "Les Chansons d'Amour."

New York artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel is bringing "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," while the black-and-white cartoon "Persepolis" will animate the Competition category.

Asian films are a noticeable minority In Competition this year, with only Korean Lee Chang-dong's "Secret Sunshine," Japanese Naomi Kawase's "Mogari no Mori" and Kim Ki-duk's "Breath" making the cut.

And jury president Stephen Frears will find it easier to avoid judging his fellow Brits' efforts with U.K. titles noticeably absent.

Eastern European filmmakers find themselves firmly in the spotlight with two Russian films in the running from helmers Andrey Zvyagintsev and Alexander Sokourov, in addition to offerings from Hungarian, Romanian and Serbian directors.

Bela Tarr's "The Man From London," Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and Cannes pro Emir Kusturica with "Promise Me This" are all set to arrive in France.

Turkish-German helmer Fatih Akin's "Auf Der Anderen Seite Des Lebens" and Raphael Nadjari's "Tehelim," an Israeli production, also will vie for the fest's top prize.

Selectors sorted through 3,983 submissions, including 1,615 features from 95 countries before making the final cut, organizers said.

Midnight screenings include Abel Ferrara's "Go Go Tales" and a U2 concert filmed in 3-D. The festival will close with Canadian director Denys Arcand's "The Age of Darkness" in an Out Of Competition slot.

From a director's lesson with Martin Scorsese to a compilation of short films from the creme de la creme of international helmers and an homage to Henry Fonda, the festival will celebrate its 60th anniversary in style. Organizers also will add a new theater, christened the "Salle du 60eme," in between the Palais and the Riviera.

"We wanted to combine tradition and modernity, major signatures and young sprouts," festival president Gilles Jacob said at a news conference in Paris. "We want to adapt the festival to the future."

The Festival de Cannes runs May 16-27.

A complete list of today's lineup announcement follows.

Opening night:
"My Blueberry Nights," Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong

In Competition:
"An Old Mistress" (Une Vieille Maitresse), Catherine Breillat, France
"The Love Songs" (Les Chansons d'amour), Christophe Honore, France
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Julian Schnabel, France
"Auf Der Anderen Seite Des Lebens," Fatih Akin, Turkey
"Breath," Kim Ki-duk, South Korea
"No Country for Old Men," Joel and Ethan Coen, U.S.
"Zodiac," David Fincher, U.S.
"We Own the Night," James Gray, U.S.
"Mogari No Mori," Naomi Kawase, Japan
"Promise Me This," Emir Kusturica, Serbia
"Secret Sunshine," Lee Chang-Dong, South Korea
"4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," Cristian Mungiu, Romania
"Tehilim," Raphael Nadjari, France
"Silent Light," Carlos Reygadas, Mexico
"Persepolis," Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, France
"Import/Export," Ulrich Seid, Austria
"Alexandra," Alexander Sokourov, Russia
"Death Proof," Quentin Tarantino, U.S.
"The Man From London," Bela Tarr, Hungary
"Paranoid Park," Gus Van Sant, U.S.
"The Banishment," Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia

Out of Competition:
"Sicko," Michael Moore, U.S.
"Ocean's Thirteen," Steven Soderbergh, U.S.
"A Mighty Heart," Michael Winterbottom, U.K.

Closing night:
"The Age of Darkness," Denys Arcand, Canada

Un Certain Regard:
"Calle Santa Fe," Carmen Castillo, Chile
"Munyurangabo," Lee Isaac Chung, U.S.
"Night Train," Yinan Diao, China
"El Bano Del Papa," Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlone, Uruguay
"Bikur Hatizmoret," Eran Kolirin, Israel
"Mister Lonely," Harmony Korine, U.S.
"Magnus," Kadri Kousaar, Estonia
"Mang Shan," Yang Li, China
"Mio Fratello e Figlio Unico," Daniele Luchetti, Italy
"California Dreamin' " (Nesfarsit), Crisitan Nemescu, Romania
"La Soledad," Jaime Rosales, Spain
"Am Ende Kommen Touristen," Robert Thalheim, Germany
"Kuaile Gongchang," Ekachai Uekrongtham, Singapore
"Le Reve De La Nuit D'Avant," Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, France
"Et Toi, T'Es Sur Qui?" Lola Doillon, France
"L'Avocat De La Terreur," Barbet Schroeder, France
"Les Pieuvres," Celine Sciamma, France

Short films:
"Resistance Aux Tremblements," Olivier Hems, France
"Run," Mark Albiston, New Zealand
"The Oate's Valor," Tim Thaddeus Cahill, U.S.
"The Last 15," Antonio Campos, U.S.
"Grandma," Anthony Chen, Singapore
"Ark," Grzegorz Jonkajtys, Poland
"Ver Llover," Elisa Miller, Mexico
"The Name of the Sparrow," Kyros Papavassiliou, Cyprus
"Looking Glass," Erik Rosenlund, Sweden
"My Sister," Marco Van Geffen, Netherlands
"My Dear Rosetta," Hae-hoon Yang, South Korea

Midnight Screenings, Out of Competition:
"Go Go Tales," Abel Ferrara, U.S.
"U2 3D," Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington, U.S.
"Boarding Gate," Olivier Assayas, France

Special Screenings, Out of Competition:
"11th Hour," Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners, U.S.
"The War," Lynn Novick and Ken Burns, U.S.
"He Fengming," Bing Wang, China
"Retour En Normandie," Nicolas Philibert, France

Cannes jury:
President: Stephen Frears, director, U.K.
Maggie Cheung, actress, Hong Kong
Toni Collette, actress, Australia
Maria de Medeiros, director-actress, Portugal
Sarah Polley, director-actress, Canada
Marco Bellocchio, director, Italy
Orhan Pamuk, writer, Turkey
Michel Piccoli, director-actor, France
Abderrahmane Sissako, director, Mauritania