Cannes Film Fest 2009: Year 62–Auteur Cinema is Well and Alive

Cannes Film Fest 2009–Quentin Tarantino, Ang Lee and Pedro Almodovar will face off with Jane Campion, Ken Loach, Michael Haneke and Park Chan-wook in Cannes’ biggest auteur showdown in years.  All will have films in Competition  at the 62nd Festival de Cannes, whose Official Selection was unveiled Thursday.

This year’s Competition is heavy on European fare but has the lightest U.S. presence since 2006. Asia makes a strong showing.  Cannes will premiere Quentin Tarantino’s World War II actioner “Inglourious Basterds,” toplining Brad Pitt, and Lee’s “Talking Woodstock,” a comedic take on the legendary concert, with Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Emile Hirsch.

Sam Raimi‘s feel-good horror movie, “Drag Me to Hell,” already a highlight in an unfinished version at March’s SXSW fest, scores a Midnight Screening slot.

Terry Gilliam screens Out of Competition with “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.” Of other U.S. pics, Lee Daniel‘s “Precious” plays in Un Certain Regard.

Competition includes Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces,” Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” and Ken Loach’s “Looking for Eric.”  It will also feature Lars von Trier‘s “Antichrist,” Austrian Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon,” Isabel Coixet‘s “Map of the Sounds of Tokyo” and Italian Marco Bellocchio‘s “Vincere.”

Cannes Official Selection is light on U.S. fare this year. At a packed press conference in Paris’ Grand Hotel, fest director Thierry Fremaux, flanked by Cannes president Gilles Jacob, told journalists that Hollywood WGA strike could have been responsible for the U.S. underrepresentation.

As already announced, the event opens with Pete Docter and Bob Peterson‘s Pixar movie “Up,” the first time an animated film, let alone a Digital 3-D one, has kicked off Cannes.

Park Chan-wook’s “Thirst” leads a strong Asian presence in Competition. He has joined by more Asian titles: Johnnie To‘s “Vengeance,” Brillante Mendoza‘s “Kinatay” and “Face,” a French-set extravaganza from the Taiwan-based maverick. China’s Lou Ye (“Summer Palace”) is back at Cannes with a reportedly torrid young love triangle tale, “Spring Fever.”

This year’s Cannes Competition belongs largely to European directos.  Alain Resnais‘ “Les Herbes folles,” Jacques Audiard‘s “A Prophet,” Xavier Giannoli‘s “In the Beginning” and Gaspar Noe‘s “Enter the Void” fly the flag for France, which has one of its biggest Competish presences in recent years, especially if one includes co-production.

Competition is given spread by a sprinkling of newish directors such as Brit Andrea Arnold, who segues from acclaimed debut “Red Road” to teenage girl drama “Fish Tank,” and Competition is rounded up by Palestine’s Elia Suleiman, “The Time That Remains,” a six-decade Palestine family saga.


Alejandro Amenabar‘s “Agora” snared an out-of-competition placing.

Cannes’ 62nd edition closes May 24 with Jan Kounen‘s “Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky.”

OPENING

“Up,” U.S., Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

CLOSING

“Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky,” France, Jan Kounen

IN COMPETITION

“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