Mar 9, 2007

Films vie for key slots at Cannes

PARIS (Hollywood Reporter) - As the Berlin International Film Festival winds down, attention is beginning to focus on the Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off May 16.

After the poor reception given to last year's opener "The Da Vinci Code," pressure is on to find a more crowd-pleasing title for the 60th edition. One option is the hugely ambitious documentary "Earth," which offers a dazzling look at natural life on the planet.

"We're already speaking to Cannes about being the opening film," said Sophokles Tasioulis of Greenlight Media, which co-produced the movie with the BBC.

A more conventional contender is "Ocean's Thirteen" from Palme d'Or winner Steven Soderbergh. That would allow for a top-flight red-carpet gala given that the all-star cast is headed by George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Al Pacino.

The Iraq-themed movie "The Valley of Elah," written and directed by Paul Haggis and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and James Franco, also is in the running. "It's not out of the question," a source said.

Although it is too early for titles to have received any locked-down slots, artistic director Thierry Fremaux looks to have a good choice of titles from the U.S. and France.

Among the former is Cannes golden boy Quentin Tarantino's exploitation double-feature "Grind House," co-directed with Robert Rodriguez.
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" is one possibility for an out of competition slot. The fantasy adventure "Stardust," starring Claire Danes, Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, also might show up. "Spider-Man 3" is thought unlikely because it bows in the U.S. on May 4 ahead of the festival. Despite early speculation that DreamWorks' "Shrek the Third" would make the trip -- following in the footsteps of its predecessors -- the odds seem to be lengthening.

The Coen brothers' adventure drama "No Country for Old Men," starring Jones, should be ready, as should Palme d'Or winner Gus van Sant's French-backed "Paranoid Park."

But selectors might be wary of criticisms about packing the lineup with familiar faces.

Other U.S. indie titles in contention are thought to be Sean Penn's Alaskan tale "Into the Wild," based on the best-seller by Jon Krakauer and starring Emile Hirsch; Harmony Korine's comedy drama "Mister Lonely," starring Diego Luna as Michael Jackson and Samantha Morton as Marilyn Monroe; and the Billy Crudup starrer "Dedication," directed by Justin Theroux, though the film's inclusion in Sundance means it is more likely for a sidebar slot.
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Woody Allen's "Cassandra's Dreams," shot in London and Brighton and starring Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell and Michelle Williams, and Francis Ford Coppola's "Youth Without Youth" also are possibilities.

The documentary possibilities include the Leonardo DiCaprio-produced "11th Hour," a sort of survival guide for the global environment, and Michael Moore's "Sicko," an expose of the U.S. health-care system.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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