The 67th Cannes Film Festival gets under way on Wednesday
with 18 films showing in the main competition for the Palme d'Or
prize awarded by a majority female jury headed by New Zealand
director Jane Campion, the only woman ever to receive the top
Cannes award for her 1993 film "The Piano".
Another 20 films are in the "Un Certain Regard" strand, plus
dozens more in the "Directors' Fortnight", the "Critics' Week"
and other festival showcases. And, providing the customary dash
of controversy, the opening film - "Grace of Monaco" - has been
denounced as a "farce" by the late princess's three children.
Cannes is "insane, very intense and fun", said Canadian director
David Cronenberg, a Cannes regular whose "Maps to the Stars"
starring "Twilight" teen vampire series idol Robert Pattinson as
a Hollywood wannabe is in competition.
British director Mike Leigh, a past winner of the Palme d'Or,
whose "Mr Turner" is based on the life of the British landscape
painter J.M.W. Turner, said screening a film at Cannes is "a
"I'm always delighted to be there. I think it's my fifth time in
competition and I was on the jury so I'm glad to go there with
something to do," he said.
For Turkish director Nuri Ceylan, whose "Winter Sleep" is in
competition and whose films have regularly won awards at Cannes,
"this is an opportunity to showcase the country and its film
business because this is where the heart of the industry beats",
his producer, Zeynep Ozbatur, told Reuters.
American director Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" is based on the
murder of a championship wrestler by an heir to the DuPont
chemical fortune. "The Search" by French director Michel
Hazanavicius ("The Artist") is set in war-torn Chechnya.
American actor-director Tommy Lee Jones's "The Homesman" is a
frontier drama starring himself and Meryl Streep while other
Cannes veterans in competition include France's Jean-Luc Godard
with "Adieu au Langage" and Canada's Atom Egoyan with "The
Add in 25-year-old Xavier Dolan's "Mommy", and Canada has three
films in competition to two for the United States, which
Cronenberg said is a bit like a victory in the two neighbors'
eternal hockey rivalry.
MOSTLY "OLD EUROPE", AMERICAN ENTRIES
"The interesting thing for me is how much this lineup relies
really on 'Old Europe' and America - there are a few Asian
films, no German films, very few from Scandinavia and not much
from Eastern Europe or Russia," said Scott Roxborough, Berlin
bureau chief for The Hollywood Reporter.
"So it's a lot of familiar faces but also familiar areas - lots
of French films, as you always have, a fair chunk of American
films and others from places we've seen before."
But a party is a party and there is something for every taste.
Cannes will host the world premiere of the "How to Train Your
Dragon 2" sequel to the animation blockbuster, as well as a
blast-from-the-past showing of a restored version of "The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre" cult horror classic from 1974.
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The festival also is known for controversy and already has one for
this year: its opening film, "Grace of Monaco", starring Nicole
Kidman as American actress Grace Kelly who married Prince Rainier of
Monaco and died after crashing her car in 1982 in hills above the
principality, not far to the east of Cannes.
For months, the trade press has been reporting that the film's
French director, Olivier Dahan, and producer Harvey Weinstein, who
owns the American distribution rights, have been sparring over the
This month the Monaco royal family weighed in, calling the film a
"farce". Prince Albert and his sisters - Kelly's children Caroline
and Stephanie - said a trailer "confirms the totally fictional
nature of this film".
Asked about the dispute last month, Thierry Fremaux, the festival's
director, alluded to French law which stipulates that a film's
director decides on the final cut.
"We're in France, and at Cannes, the only version is the version of
the director," Fremaux said.
A whiff of scandal is good for business and Cannes has reliably
produced its share ever since the 18-year-old bikinied Brigitte
Bardot allowed Hollywood leading man Kirk Douglas to play with her
hair in a famous 1953 photo shoot on the beach.
The festival is a media magnet and Cronenberg, who won a jury prize
at Cannes in 1996 for his film-noir "Crash", says that is exactly
what independent producers, like him, want.
In a telephone interview he said he would probably do at least 500
interviews in Cannes, providing publicity for his new movie the
likes of which he could not get anywhere else.
"As an independent we can't afford to send the cast all over the
world ... (So) it's a fantastic venue to promote a movie."
The "wow" and name-recognition factors for Cannes are what seem to
set it apart.
"It has a magical ring," said British screenwriter Stephen
Beresford, whose film "Pride" will be shown out of competition.
"When you ring your mum and say your film's got into a film
festival, when you say 'Cannes', she knows what you mean."
(Additional reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul; Editing by
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