Cannes unveils lineup
Heavyweight auteurs vie for Palme d'Or
PARIS -- It's official: Quentin Tarantino, Ang Lee and Pedro Almodovar will face off with Jane Campion, Ken Loach, Michael Haneke and Park Chan-wook in Cannes' biggest heavyweight auteur smackdown in recent years.
All have snagged Competition berths at next month's 62nd Cannes Festival, whose Official Selection was unveiled Thursday at a packed press conference in Paris' Grand Hotel by program topper Thierry Fremaux and fest prez Gilles Jacob.
As forecast, this year's Competition is heavy on European and Asian fare. Large swathes of the globe (including Latin America, Central Europe, Scandinavia, Africa and the Near East) are unrepped, and, with only two U.S. titles in the battle for the Palme -- "Inglourious Basterds" and "Taking Woodstock" -- it's the thinnest Yank presence in Competition since 2006.
Tarantino's "Basterds," a World War II actioner toplining Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Mike Myers and Eli Roth, leads the Croisette charge for the U.S., followed by Ang Lee's "Woodstock," a comedic take on the legendary concert, with Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Emile Hirsch.
Even in the non-competing sidebars of the Official Selection, which usually showcase big-name Hollywood fare, it's slim pickings for the U.S. this year. Sam Raimi's horror opus "Drag Me to Hell," already a highlight in an unfinished version at March's SXSW fest, scores a Midnight Screening slot, while Anne Aghion's docu on post-Rwanda Massacre reconciliation, "My Neighbor, My Killer," has a Special Screenings berth.
Aside from this year's opening film, Pixar 3-D toon "Up," the only other U.S. pic in the Official Selection is Lee Daniels' Sundance multi-prizewinner, "Precious," in Un Certain Regard.
Among names strongly rumored to have been offered slots but not figuring in the final selection, most prominent is Francis Ford Coppola, with his indie project, "Tetro," starring Vincent Gallo. Pic is reported to have been offered a non-competing slot.
Heading the list of fave Cannes names in Competition are Almodovar ("Broken Embraces"), Campion ("Bright Star"), Loach (soccer-centered drama "Looking for Eric"), von Trier (psychodrama "Antichrist") and Austrian Michael Haneke's ("The White Ribbon," about incipient fascism in 1919 Germany).
Amping up the Fortress Auteur look of this year's Competition -- which features not a single name new to Cannes or any first-timers -- are Isabel Coixet's "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" and Italian vet Marco Bellocchio's "Vincere."
Park Chan-wook's "Thirst" leads the strong Asian presence in Competition. He's joined by more Asian titles: Johnnie To's "Vengeance," starring Johnny Hallyday on the rampage in Hong Kong, Brillante Mendoza's "Kinatay" and "Face," a French-set extravaganza from Taiwan-based maverick Tsai Ming-liang. China's Lou Ye ("Summer Palace") is back at Cannes with a reportedly torrid young love-triangle tale, "Spring Fever."
Otherwise, this year's Cannes Competition belongs largely to Europe.
Alain Resnais' "Les Herbes folles," Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet," Xavier Giannoli's "In the Beginning" and Gaspar Noe's late submission, "Enter the Void," fly the flag for Gaul, which has one of its biggest Competish presences in recent years, especially if one includes co-productions like Campion's "Bright Star," Von Trier's "Antichrist," To's "Vengeance," Tsai's "Face" and Loach's "Looking for Eric."
The "newest" director is 48-year-old Brit Andrea Arnold, who segues from her acclaimed debut "Red Road" (in Cannes' 2006 Competish) to teenage girl drama "Fish Tank." Returning after a seven-year break is Middle East helmer Elia Suleiman, with the six-decade Palestinian family saga, "The Time That Remains." The Palestinian helmer last competed in Cannes with "Divine Intervention" in 2002.
Alejandro Amenabar's "Agora," a Christian drama set in Roman-era Egypt, starring Rachel Weisz, eventually snared an out-of-competition slot.
Even this year's Un Certain Regard, the biggest sidebar in Official Selection, and once seen by Fremaux as a section of "discovery," is stuffed with Cannes faves, including Japan's Hirokazu Kore-eda with "Air Doll" (about a clerk falling for an inflatable female doll), Pavel Lounguine with "Tzar," Romanian directors Cristian Mungiu ("Tales from the Golden Age" anthology) and Corneliu Porumboiu ("Police, Adjective"), South Korea's Bong Joon-ho ("Mother") and Thailand's Pen-ek Ratanaruang ("Nymph").
Fest closes May 24 with "Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky," starring Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen, directed by Dutch vet Jan Kounen. Still to be announced are Cannes Classics, the short film selection, and the Cinefondation's choice.
The Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week both announce their full programs Friday in Paris.
Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report.
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
"Up," U.S., Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
"Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky," France, Jan Kounen
"Bright Star," Australia-U.K.-France, Jane Campion
"Spring Fever," China-France, Lou Ye
"Antichrist," Denmark-Sweden-France-Italy, Lars von Trier
"Enter the Void," France, Gaspar Noe
"Face," France-Taiwan-Netherlands-Belgium, Tsai Ming-liang
"Les Herbes folles," France-Italy, Alain Resnais
"In the Beginning," France, Xavier Giannoli
"A Prophet," France, Jacques Audiard
"The White Ribbon," Germany-Austria-France, Michael Haneke
"Vengeance," Hong Kong-France-U.S., Johnnie To
"The Time That Remains," Israel-France-Belgium-Italy, Elia Suleiman
"Vincere," Italy-France, Marco Bellocchio
"Kinatay," Philippines, Brillante Mendoza
"Thirst," South Korea-U.S., Park Chan-wook
"Broken Embraces," Spain, Pedro Almodovar
"Map of the Sounds of Tokyo," Spain, Isabel Coixet
"Fish Tank," U.K.-Netherlands, Andrea Arnold
"Looking for Eric," U.K.-France-Belgium-Italy, Ken Loach
"Inglourious Basterds," U.S., Quentin Tarantino
"Taking Woodstock," U.S., Ang Lee
OUT OF COMPETITION
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," Canada-France, Terry Gilliam
"The Army of Crime," France, Robert Guediguian
"Agora," Spain, Alejandro Amenabar
"A Town Called Panic," Belgium, Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar
"Ne te retourne pas," France-Belgium-Luxembourg-Italy, Marina de Van
"Drag Me to Hell," U.S., Sam Raimi
"Petition," China, Zhao Liang
"L'epine dans le coeur," France, Michel Gondry
"Min ye," France-Mali, Souleyumane Cisse
"Jaffa," Israel-France-Germany, Keren Yedaya
"Manila," Philippines, Adolfo Alix Jr., Raya Martin
"My Neighbor, My Killer," U.S., Anne Aghion
UN CERTAIN REGARD
"Samson & Delilah," Australia, Warwick Thornton
"Adrift," Brazil, Heitor Dhalia
"The Wind Journeys," Colombia, Ciro Guerra
"Demain des l'aube," France, Denis Dercourt
"Irene," France, Alain Cavalier
"Air Doll," Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda
"Independance," Philippines-France-Germany, Raya Martin
"Le Pere de mes enfants," France-Germany, Mia Hansen-Love
"Dogtooth," Greece, Yorgos Lanthimos
"Nobody Knows About the Persian Cats," Iran, Bahman Ghobadi
"Eyes Wide Open," Israel, Haim Tabakman
"Mother," South Korea, Bong Joon-ho
"The Silent Army," Netherlands, Jean van de Velde
"To Die Like a Man," Portugal, Joao Pedro Rodrigues
"Police, Adjective," Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu
"Tales from the Golden Age," Romania, Hanno Hofer, Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Popescu, Ioana Uricaru
"Tale in the Darkness," Russia, Nikolay Khomeriki
"Tzar," Russia-France, Pavel Lounguine
"Nymph," Thailand, Pen-ek Ratanaruang
"Precious," U.S., Lee Daniels
FEATURE FILM JURY
Isabelle Huppert (president), actress, France
Asia Argento, actress, director, screenwriter, Italy
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director, screenwriter, actor, Turkey
Lee Chang-dong, director, author, screenwriter, South Korea
James Gray, director, screenwriter, U.S.
Hanif Kureishi, author, screenwriter, U.K.
Shu Qi, actress, Taiwan
Robin Wright Penn, actress, U.S.
LA CINEFONDATION AND SHORT FILM JURY
John Boorman (president), director, author, producer, U.K.
Bertrand Bonello, director, France
Ferid Boughedir, director, Tunisia
Leonor Silveira, actress, Portugal
Zhang Ziyi, actress, China