4 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
Cannes Film Festival
11 May 2000 :
The Cannes Film Festival always generates a certain amount of controversy, from movie stars practically stripping on the steps of the Palais to dubious decisions by the international jury. Glenn Hogarty reports.

The initial talking point about this years festival is the dearth of titles from US studios. It seemed that something like Mission: Impossible 2 would have been an obvious choice for inclusion (or perhaps thats a bad example, as the film is still in post-production), but US majors seem to have shyed away from this years fest, with only three US produced films in the main competition. Those three are Neil Labute's reputedly excellent Nurse Betty, starring Morgan Freeman and Renee Zellweger, the Coen Brothers O Brother, Where Art Thou? starring George Clooney and John Turturro, and The Yards by James Gray, starring Mark Wahlberg and Faye Dunaway. Both Gray and Labute have 'graduated' from the fests Un Certain Regard section, and are in competition this year with such established Cannes figures as Ken Loach with Bread and Roses, his first film to be shot in the US (yet fully financed in the UK); the controversial Lars Von Trier with his lavish, big-budget musical Dancer in the Dark which boasts the unusual casting of Bjork and Catherine Deneuve; and James Ivory with The Golden Bowl featuring Uma Thurman and Nick Nolte.

Of course, these are just some of the titles which are actually in competition. Much more of the activity on the Croisette revolves around Market screenings, where production companies screen their wares in the hope that they can secure international sales. While some of these titles look less likely to have any luck in this area (one company boasts: "From the Producer of Delta Force and Operation Thunderbolt: ELIAN- The True Story of Elian Gonzalez" while another is attempting to sell something called Forever Lulu, starring two of Hollywoods more, ahem....less bankable actors, Patrick Swayze and Melanie Griffith....), many will undoubtedly have more luck. Of the Irish interest at the Cannes market, producer Rob Walpole and director/screenwriter Conor McPherson will be on hand to screen (and hopefully sell) Saltwater, adapted from McPherson's own play, 'This Lime Tree Bower'. The film has already been picked up by Buena Vista International (Disney's distribution arm) in the Republic of Ireland. Also screening in the sidebar at Cannes is Neil Jordan's short film Not I, with Julianne Moore. This is the first of the Samuel Beckett plays to be filmed under an ambitious plan by Michael Colgan of the Gate Theatre to film all 13 plays (in fact, McPherson has directed another, along with Canadian Atom Egoyan and a host of others).

It is always nigh impossible to even attempt to guess which way the jury might swing this year. As always, the jury is a very mixed bag - this year, it's president is Luc Besson (Nikita, Joan of Arc), with other members including US director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Beloved) and actors Jeremy Irons and Kristin Scott-Thomas. Word is very positive on some of the titles (particularly by Coen Bros., Labute, Loach, Oshima), while very little is known of some of the others.

Despite the lack of US produced films in Cannes, the festival (in conjunction with the Independent Feature Project) has lined up an impressive selection of participants for the American Directors press conference. These include John Waters (whose new film, Cecil B. Demented , screens in a special slot, out of competition); Darren Aronofsky, director of cult indie Pi, who will be screening his new title, Requiem for a Dream and novice Karyn Kusama (whose Girlfight swept the boards at Sundance). It's unlikely that the festival will be very big on glamorous star-power this year, although characters like John Waters and the Coen Brothers should certainly keep the proceedings moving along with some degree of irreverence.

Finally, word in the industry has it that the hot titles at this years festival are: Denys Arcand's Stardom (Arcand won the Palme d'Or for Jesus of Montrea 10 years ago); Dancer, the debut film by Stephen Daldry which is receiving favourable comparisons to Shine; Purely Belter, directed by Mark Herman (Little Voice); and the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart's feature debut Honest, a sixties romp, starring three of the All Saints.

- Glenn Hogarty

Visit the Cannes website at www.festival-cannes.org

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