Gautaman Bhaskaran
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Cannes 2006: Usual suspects missing in official lineup     

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
Penelope Cruz in "Volver"
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.


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:

In Competition:

Volver (To Return)
Director: Pedro Almodovar, Spain

Red Road
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

Iklimler (Climates)
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

Southland Tales                                                                    
Director: Richard Kelly, U.S.

Fast Food Nation
Director: Richard Linklater, U.S.

Director: Sofia Coppola, U.S

Summer Palace
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

Flandres (Flanders)
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:                                                    

Affiche Festival de Cannes 2005

The Da Vinci Code
Director: Ron Howard, U.S. opening-night film

Director: Tony Gatlif, France closing-night film

United 93
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.

Guisi Silk
Director: Su Chao Pin, Taiwan

Election 2
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

La Californie
Director: Jacques Fieschi, France

Meutrieres (Murderers)
Director: Patrick Grandperret, France

Bled Number One
Director: Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche, France/Algeria

Il Regista di Matrimoni (The Wedding Director)
Director: Marco Bellocchio, Italy

Ten Canoes
Director: Rolf de Heer,  The Netherlands

Hamaca Paraguaya (Paraguay Swings)
Director: Paz Encina, Paraguay

Uro (Unrest)
Director: Stefan Faldbakken, Norway

Suburban Mayhem
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

Taxidermia (Taxidermy)
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

Luxury Car
Director: Wang Chao, China

The Unforgiven
Director: Yoon Jong-Bin, Korea


Feature Films Jury

WONG Kar Wai, President - Chinese director                            
Zhang Ziyi

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)

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