58th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Brian in Mesa

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Darth Does Cannes-Cannes
Tuesday April 19, 2005

The Force is strong on the French Riviera.

Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith, the final installment in director George Lucas's trio of prequels, will premiere out of competition at the 58th Annual Cannes Film Festival, organizers announced Tuesday as they unveiled the cinematic slate for the world's most venerable confab.

Unlike last year which saw politics take center stage with Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, winning the Palm d'Or, the 2005 edition will focus on new films by some fest favorites.

David Cronenberg, Wim Wenders, Atom Egoyan, Jim Jarmusch, Gus Van Sant and Lars von Trier--all of whom have either been nominated or won the Grand Jury Prize--will have films in competition. They'll be joined in the quest for the Golden Palm by Tommy Lee Jones, who makes his directing debut with The Three Burials of Meslquades Estrada.

Von Trier's Mandalay is the middle chapter in the Danish filmmaker's planned trilogy of American history lessons begun with 2004's Dogville. It follows the continuing trials and tribulations of Miss Grace Margaret Mulligan (Bryce Dallas Howard in the role Nicole Kidman originated) as she encounters the viciousness of slavery in the South. The film also features Willem Dafoe, Danny Glover and Lauren Bacall, all of whom will lend their star wattage to the red carpet on the Croisette.

Misery loves good company, so it's only natural the Von will be joined by the Van: Gus Van Sant's Last Days, a rock 'n' roll drama set in Seattle about a Kurt Cobain-style musician's rise to stardom and subsequent burnout.

Cronenberg is representing with A History of Violence, starring Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello and Ed Harris in the story of a father whose family falls apart following a suicide in the brood's diner.

Wenders' Don't Come Knockin' centers on an aging cowboy star who walks off a movie set to go find himself. The film was written by Wenders and Sam Shepard, who costars opposite wife Jessica Lange.

Jarmusch's comedy Broken Flowers stars Bill Murray as a stubbornly single guy named Don Johnston who gets the boot from his girlfriend (Julie Delpy) and then discovers he might have fathered a child out of wedlock. That leads to a cross-country trip to contact old flames who might help him solve the mystery. Sharon Stone, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton and Chloë Sevingy costar.

The festival kicks off May 11 with a French entry, Dominick Moll's Lemming, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg. The Golden Palm will get handed out 11 days later, preceded by a screening of Chromophobia from another French director, Martha Fiennes.

Also on the diverse slate: Italian Marco Tullio Giordana's Once You're Born You Can No Longer Hide; Belgium duo Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardennes' L'Enfant; Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai's Free Zone; German auteur Michael Haneke's Hidden; Kurdistan native Hiner Saleem's Kilometer Zero; Mexican director Carlos Reygadas' Battle of Heaven; Japan maestro Masahiro Kobayashi's Bashing; Chinese director Wang Xiaoshuai's Shanghai Dreams; Taiwainese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Best of Our Times; Hong Kong-based Johnny To's Election; and last but not least, Hollywood rebel Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City--characterized as a "human cartoon" by one fest rep and featuring a guest directing turn by last year's jury president, Quentin Tarantino.

Speaking of the jury, this year's panel will be headed up by another Cannes mainstay, Bosnian filmmaker Emir Kustirica, whose Underground won the Palm d'Or in 1995.

There are 20 feature films in competition from 13 different countries. A total of 1,500 films were submitted from a record 97 countries; of those, 53 films will unspool from 28 countries, with 50 world premieres. (Sin City, which already opened Stateside, is the rare exception.)

"Last year we wanted to present the importance of documentary cinema and animation. This year, there is a return to a certain classicism, the great auteurs, many of whom have already been in competition," artistic director Thierry Fremeaux told reporters Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Jedi fans left out in the cold in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles might consider a pilgrimage to the Riviera, where Sith will receive a special screening a week and a half before its May 19 debut in the U.S.

Joining Sith and Chromophobia outside of competition are Match Point, from Cannes regular and French favorite Woody Allen, and Joyeux Noel, from South Korea's Kim Jee-woon.

Other notables events include a midnight showing of a 20-minute excerpt of George Romero's classic zombie flicks and Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, a murder mystery starring Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. from noted Hollywood scribe Shane Black.
 
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