The 59th edition of the Cannes International Film Festival -- from May 17 to 28 2006 – has not rounded up the usual suspects, to quote one of the immortal closing lines of “Casablanca” that went on to become part of cinema history, making icons of Claude Rains and Humphrey Bogart, who played Louis Renault and Richard Blaine respectively in the 1942 classic.
Will this Festival on the exquisite French Riviera become as memorable? The simple answer is, that it can, given the fact that the Festival, undoubtedly the world’s best, is showing signs of a great renewal.
Of the 20 directors whose movies have been chosen to play in the Festival’s top slot, Competition, only one, Italy’s Nanni Moretti has previously won the Palm d’Or, Cannes’s number one prize. This was in 2001 for his “The Son’s Room”. Last year in May 2005, the Competition was crowded with four earlier Palm winners.
Moretti’s “The Caiman” comes from an auteur known for his sparkling wit and humour, albeit presented with great restraint. In his latest rendering, Moretti gives us a political satire on Italy’s former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.The other Italian work in Competition is Paolo Sorrentino's “The Family Friend”, about a usurer who worms his way into a family.
However, there are several old hands in Competition: Pedro Almodovar with his
spectral Spanish family drama "Volver," starring (who else but) Penelope Cruz; Aki Kaurismaki with the last part of his Finnish trilogy, "Lights in the Dusk"; and British helmer Ken Loach with "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," about two brothers who join a guerrilla army in 1919 to battle British Black and Tan squads.
|Penelope Cruz in "Volver"|
In the French contingent are two old Cannes hands out of the total three directors. Nicole Garcia’s “ According to Charlie” and Bruno Dumont’s “Flanders” will be screened, besides newcomer Xavier Giannoli’s “When I Was a Singer”. Garcia talks about seven people passing through an existential crisis, while Dumont captures the effect of a desert war on ordinary men and women.
Another facet of this year’s great renewal is the Competition’s liberal dose of what one can term “rising generation”. They include America’s Sofia Coppola with her modernist period drama "Marie-Antoinette,"; and Mexican auteur Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose "Babel" stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
There are two more Competition entries from the U.S.: Richard Linklater with “Fast Food Nation” (he has another film in A Certain regard, “A Scanner Darkly”) and Richard Kelly’s musical science-fiction comedy, “Southland Tales”.
The Competition is also marked by a strong Latino presence: we have Mexican writer-director Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," set against the backdrop of Franco's Spain; and “Youth on the March”, a modern story of Portugal’s poor.
Asia is really weak this year. There is nothing from India. In fact, there has been nothing since 2002, when Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Devdas” was part of Cannes’s Special Screenings.
China is the dominant force from Asia, with an unprecedented two members on the jury -- president Wong Kar Wai and actress Ziyi Zhang -- and the only Asian Competition title, Lou Ye's tale of youthful discovery, "Summer Palace."
Elsewhere, China's Wang Chao has "Luxury Car" in A Certain Regard, Hong Kong director Johnnie To's "Election 2" will unspool Out of Competition, as will sword epic “Silk” from Taiwanese helmer Su Chao-Pin.
Out of Competition screenings are dominated by English-language titles: including a premiere of the latest chapter in 20th Century Fox's sci-fi action franchise, "X-Men: The Last Stand"; DreamWorks' animated "Over the Hedge," with Bruce Willis set to be in town to promote the movie; and U.K. director Paul Greengrass' Universal film "United 93," a dramatization of events on the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.
The list of films announced in Paris on April 20 2006:
Volver (To Return)
Director: Pedro Almodovar, Spain
Director: Andrea Arnold, Britain
The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Director: Ken Loach, Britain
La Raison du Plus Faible (The Weakest Is Always Right)
Director: Lucas Belvaux, Belgium
Indigenes (Days of Glory)
Director: Rachid Bouchareb, Algeria
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey
Juventude Em Marcha (Colossal Youth)
Director: Pedro Costa, Portugal
El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)
Director: Guillermo Del Toro, Mexico
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mexico
Laitakaupungin Valot (Lights in the Dusk)
Director: Aki Kaurismaki, Finland
Director: Richard Kelly, U.S.
Fast Food Nation
Director: Richard Linklater, U.S.
Director: Sofia Coppola, U.S
Director: Lou Ye, China
Cronica de Una Fuga (Chronicle of a Flight)
Director: Adrian Caetano, Israel
Il Caimano (The Caiman)
Director: Nanni Moretti, Italy
L'Amico di Famiglia (The Family Friend)
Director: Paolo Sorrentino, Italy
Director: Bruno Dumont, France
Selon Charlie (Charlie Says)
Director: Nicole Garcia, France
Quand J'etais Chanteur (The Singer)
Director: Xavier Giannoli, France
Out Of Competition:
The Da Vinci Code
Director: Ron Howard, U.S. opening-night film
Director: Tony Gatlif, France closing-night film
Director: Paul Greengrass, Britain
Zidane, un Portrait du 21eme Siecle Zidane, (A 21st Century Portrait)
Directors: Philippe Parreno, France and Douglas Gordon, Britain
X-Men: The Last Stand
Director: Brett Ratner, U.S.
Over the Hedge
Director: Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick, U.S.
Director: John Cameron Mitchell, U.S.
Boffo: Tinseltown's Bombs and Blockbusters
Director: Bill Couturie, U.S.
An Inconvenient Truth
Director: Davis Guggenheim, U.S.
Director: Su Chao Pin, Taiwan
Director: Johnnie To, China
Volevo Solo Vivere (I Just Wanted to Live)
Director: Mimo Calopresti, Italy
El-Banate Dol (These Girls)
Director: Tahani Rached, Egypt
Director: Abderrahmane Sissako, Mali
A Certain Regard:
Paris, Je t'Aime (Paris, I Love You)
Director: multiple directors, opening film
A Scanner Darkly
Director: Richard Linklater, U.S.
La Tourneuse de Pages (The Pageturner)
Director: Denis Dercourt, France
Director: Jacques Fieschi, France
Director: Patrick Grandperret, France
Bled Number One
Director: Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche, France/Algeria
Il Regista di Matrimoni (The Wedding Director)
Director: Marco Bellocchio, Italy
Director: Rolf de Heer, The Netherlands
Hamaca Paraguaya (Paraguay Swings)
Director: Paz Encina, Paraguay
Director: Stefan Faldbakken, Norway
Director: Paul Goldman, Australia
Two Thirty 7
Director: Murali K. Thalluri, Australia
Z Odzysku (Second Hand)
Director: Slawomir Fabicki, Poland
Cum Mi-Am Petrecut Sfarsitul Lumii (How I Celebrated the End of the World)
Director: Catalin Mitulescu, Poland
Salvador Puig Antich
Director: Manuel Huerga, Spain
Director: Nikolay Khomeriki, Russia
Director: Garin Nugroho, Indonesia
Director: Gyorgy Palfi, Hungary
Gwai Wik (Re-Cycle)
Director: Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang, Hong Kong
Bihisht Faqat Baroi Murdagon (To Get To Heaven You Have To Die First)
Director: Jamshed Usmonov, Tajikistan
El Violon (The Violin)
Director: Francisco Vargas, Mexico
You Am I
Director: Kristijonas Vildziunas, Lithuania
Director: Wang Chao, China
Director: Yoon Jong-Bin, Korea
Feature Films Jury
WONG Kar Wai, President - Chinese director
ZHANG Ziyi - Chinese actress
Monica BELLUCCI - Italian actress
Helena BONHAM CARTER - English actress
Tim ROTH - English director, actor
Lucrecia MARTEL - Argentinean director
Samuel L. JACKSON - American actor
Patrice LECONTE - French director
Elia SULEIMAN - Palestinian director
(This story was posted on this website on April 21 2006)