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News from Cannes

The films in competition at the Festival International du Film in Cannes sound pretty interesting. I have been enjoying the nightly coverage on the France 2 evening news, which usually has a piece or two on Cannes, including clips from the day's screenings and sometimes seaside interviews with directors and actors. Last Friday, it was Gus van Sant's Last Days (watch the trailer), with Michael Pitt depicting the end of Kurt Cobain's life. Since van Sant's Elephant (a similar "last moments" look at the end of the Columbine massacre) won the Palme d'Or in 2003, most Cannes watchers think this movie is a long shot for any of the big awards. On Saturday, it was Caché (Hidden), a French film by Austrian director Michael Haneke, starring Daniel Auteuil et Juliette Binoche (considered a favorite for the Palme d'Or).

Yesterday, it was not the competition but the screening of George Lucas's latest Star Wars catastrophe. Leave it to the French to look for political messages in Revenge of the Sith, which they did in the line that the future Dark Vador (Darth Vader in French, to avoid that troublesome "th" sound) says to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the new movie: "You are either with me or you are my enemy," similar to what President Bush said about the so-called war on terror.

Perhaps the festival will opt for a political statement against the United States, as it did last year (under President Quentin Tarantino, bien entendu). A good candidate for such a political Palme d'Or would be either film screened today, Lars von Trier's Manderlay (about slavery in America) and David Cronenberg's A History of Violence (against the gun lobby in the United States). Both are by non-American directors (one Danish and one Canadian) who are definitely outside the Hollywood sphere, and both are considered to be on the short list. For more reading (in French but also in English), look at my list of European newspaper coverage.

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