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Climbing Those Red Stairs

Yes, the annual orgy to film as high art, the Festival International du Film in Cannes, is under way. Director Emir Kusturica is serving this year as President of the Feature Film Jury, with four other directors—Agnès Varda (whom I met here in Washington in February), John Woo, Benoît Jacquot, and Fatih Akin—actors Nandita Das, Javier Bardem, and Salma Hayek, and the writer Toni Morrison. Tonight I learned an interesting fact about Cannes, from the little piece I saw on the evening news from France 2: the reason that those steps always seem so bright red is that there is an entire crew that replaces the red carpet for each major arrival of stars. (The tradition is that the team representing each feature film in competition ascends the steps of the Palais des Festivals together. We wouldn't want anyone to feel jealous because the carpet looked worn for their big entrance.) There's lots of great coverage in the European press:

What gets stranger and stranger every year in Cannes is the contrast between the films in competition for the Palme d'Or—by directors with names like Gus Van Sant, Lars Von Trier, Wim Wenders, Dominik Moll, David Cronenberg, Jim Jarmusch, Atom Egoyan, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Amos Gitaï—and the media coverage of the films that far more people will actually see, even in France—led this year by a film that hardly needs any help with publicity, the latest installment of George Lucas's Star Wars debacle. The fun will last (and be covered here) through May 22.

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