Fanny Ardant to make her directing debut

'Cendres et Sang' produced by Alfama Films

CANNES -- French screen diva Fanny Ardant will make her directing debut with family drama "Cendres et Sang" (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.

The movie is scheduled to shoot in the fall in Marseilles and a yet-to-be-specified Balkan country. Budgeted at about 3 million euros ($4.6 million), French pay TV channel Canal Plus already has bought the film.

Branco will share the spotlight in Cannes Sunday for the tribute in the Lumiere Theatre at 4 p.m. to Portuguese veteran Manoel de Oliveira, who will celebrate his 100th birthday in December. Clint Eastwood will be among numerous filmmakers on hand to honor Oliveira, whose first 18-minute film "Douro, Faina Fluvia" will be screened.

Branco has produced no fewer than 11 Oliveira movies which 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 is also reteaming with another veteran director and Cannes regular, Chilean-born Raoul Ruiz, who is working on parallel film and TV versions of "Lisbon Mysteries" adapted from the work of celebrated 19th century Portuguese novelist Camilo Castelo Branco.

The trans-European family saga takes place around the time of the French Revolution, and will have two different scripts, one for the theatrical version and one for six one-hour TV episodes.

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