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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cannes is king when it comes to the film festival kingdom

                                                                                              AP photo/Francois Mori

Jury members from left, Martina Gusman, Uma Thurman, President of the Jury Robert De Niro, Olivier Assayas, Mahamat Saleh Haroun, Jude Law, Linn Ullmann and Nansun Shi arrive on the red carpet for the opening ceremony, at the 64th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, May 11.

Could day one of the Cannes Film Festival been any more exciting?
Against the backdrop of the French Riviera, appeared an ocean of stars with names like Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman and Jude Law, along with legendary filmmakers Woody Allen and Bernardo Bertolucci, a horde of international press.
Lucian Capellaro/Paramount
"Puss in Boots" stars Antonio Banderas and co-star Salma Hayek.
Oh, and a pair of gigantic
boots sitting on a pier.
Reeling in the paparazzi, was Dream Works Animation and Paramount Pictures promotional event for "Puss in Boots," featuring the stars of the new film Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek posed atop of the boots which bore the movie's title.
Not to be outdone by a swashbuckling pussy cat, also available for interviews were Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman, the stars of Dream Works animated sequel, "Kung Fu Panda 2."
Among the films making debuts at Cannes is Allen's "Midnight in Paris," starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Adrien Brody and Michael Sheen, one of his first projects shot in France.
"Paris is one of my favorite places in the world," said Allen, 75, who has more than 45 films to his credit, many starring the biggest names in Hollywood.
What's the draw?
While he's earned a reputation with the Academy, a great number of his movies are not box office hits.
AP Photo/Joel Ryan
“Midnight in Paris,” cast and crew, from left, actors Owen Wilson, Lea Seydoux, director Woody Allen, actors Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen and Adrien Brody, during a press conference at the 64th international film festival in Cannes, May 11.
"Actors love to work with him," said Detroit director Brian Lawrence, who just finished a five-act performance of Shakespeare's "A Midummer Night's Dream" at 1515 Broadway. "And he has an ensemble of people - like Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz - that return to work with him again and again."
Wilson's role in "Midnight in Paris" is that of a Hollywood screenwriter and wannabe novelist who pines nostalgically for the 1920s Paris of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. On a series of midnight strolls, he's transported back to the city in the time of his dreams, where he learns lessons from his idols about finding your place - and time - in life.
Before things got rolling Wednesday, Allen told the press his film aimed to show the city with the sort of glow he recalled from past big-screen takes on Paris.
"I wanted to show the city emotionally, the way I felt about it," Allen said. "It didn't matter to me how real it was or what it reflected. I just wanted it to be the way I saw Paris, Paris through my eyes."
French audiences should be delighted by the attention but also that the movie will include scenes with France's first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, playing the role of a guide at the Rodin Museum, who helps Wilson's character translate a French diary that is key to his travels into the past.
"That could be really good," said Lawrence, who has always admired Allen's work as a director, writer and actor. He was, however, taken aback by the scandal of 1992 when Allen left his partner of 12 years, Mia Farrow, for her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn (then age 22). Previn and Allen eventually married.
"He's a polarizing figure," Lawrence said. "He's a devout atheist, obsessed with death, he does all the things that make him a difficult person to be around, yet he gets the A-list actors."
AP Photo/Francois Mori
Director Woody Allen
Each hopes to learn and perhaps earn an Oscar; Allen has three, along with 21 Academy Award nominations, 14 as a screenwriter, six as a director, and one as an actor.
"As an actor, he's an unbelievably funny guy and he's done an amazing job going from a comedic director in the 1950s to directing a mix of comedy and drama as in the case of 'Annie Hall' (1977) and 'Play It Again Sam' (1972). His originality and intelligence, he's much more of a stylist than people give him credit."
Owen is not likely to net the earnings he gets from box office hits such as “Wedding Crashers” or 'Meet the Parents” but this was his chance to work with Woody Allen.
"He gives them good roles where they can shine, but he's getting up there in years" Lawrence said. "If they (actors) want the opportunity to work with him, they've got to take it now."

Making their debuts
Here is the list of the 19 films in competition for the top prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d'Or, running now through May 22 on the French Riviera:
- Pedro Almodovar: "La Piel que habito" ("The Skin I Live in")
- Bertrand Bonello: "L'apollonide - Souvenirs de la maison close"
- Alain Cavalier: "Pater"
- Joseph Cedar: "Hearat Shulayim" ("Footnote")
- Nuri Bilge Ceylan: "Bir Zamanlar Anadolu" ("Once upon a Time in Anatolia")
- Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne: "Le gamin au velo" ("Set Me Free")
- Aki Kaurismaki: "Le Havre"
- Naomi Kawase: "Hanezu no Tsuki"
- Julia Leigh: "Sleeping Beauty"
- Maiwenn: "Polisse"
- Terrence Malick: "The Tree of Life"
- Radu Mihaileanu: "La source des femmes" ("The Source")
- Takashi Miike: "Ishimei" (Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai)
- Nanni Moretti: "Habemus Papam"
- Lynne Ramsay: "We Need to Talk about Kevin"
- Markus Schleinzer: "Michael"
- Paolo Sorrentino: "This Must Be a Place"
- Lars Von Trier: "Melancholia"
- Nicolas Winding Refn: "Drive"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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