Soderbergh's four-hour Che opus tops Cannes film festival
The two-part "Che" stars Benicio Del Toro in the title role and is the 45-year-old Soderbergh's fifth film to be shown at the most prestigious film festival in the world.
Paris -- Former Golden Palm winner Steven Soderbergh's monumental four-hour film about Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara looks to be one of the highlights of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, according to the festival program presented in Paris on Wednesday.
The two-part "Che" stars Benicio Del Toro in the title role and is the 45-year-old Soderbergh's fifth film to be shown at the most prestigious film festival in the world, and the third in competition for the Golden Palm, the event's top prize.
The US director won the Golden Palm in 1989 for "Sex, Lies and Videotape," his first full-length film.
Soderbergh will be vying for the festival's top award with another veteran US director, 77-year-old Clint Eastwood, who is showing his new film"Changeling," starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich.
German Wim Wenders, who won the Golden Palm for the 1984 film "Paris, Texas," is back with Palermo Shooting, a road movie shot in Sicily.
A total of 20 films will compete for the Golden Palm this year, festival general director Thierry Fremaux told journalists in Paris. But because of the large number of movies viewed by selectors, only 19 had been selected as of Wednesday, Fremaux said.
Fremaux said that selectors had viewed a total of 4,025 full-length and short films from 107 nations.
Among the films selected is the first Philippine movie to be shown in competition in Cannes in 25 years, Brillante Mendoza's "Serbis," as well as "Le Silence de Lorna" (Lorna's Silence), by two-time Golden Palm winners Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne of Belgium.
In addition, US screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann ("Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") is in the running with his first film, "Synecdoche, New York," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Argentina, Italy and hosts France will have two films each in competition.
Lucrecia Martel with "La Mujer sin Cabeza" (The Headless Woman) and Pablo Trapero with "Leonera" represent the South Americans, while Matteo Garrone's Mafia film "Gomorra" and Paolo Sorrentino's "Il Divo" (The Male Diva) will be flying Italian colors.
Sorrentino's movie is the story of former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who has been elected to parliament seven times since it was established in 1946.
For France, which has failed to win the top prize in its own festival since 1987, hopes will be pinned on Arnaud Desplechin's "Un Conte de Noel" (A Christmas Story), starring Catherine Deneuve and new James Bond villain Mathieu Amalric, and Philippe Garrel's love story "La Frontiere de l'Aube" (At the Edge of Dawn).
The seven-member jury that will choose the Golden Palm winner and other award recipients is headed by US actor and director Sean Penn heads and includes actress Natalie Portman and Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Critics and festival visitors will also pay a great deal of attention to films being shown out of competition at the festival.
Among these are Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," Woody Allen's latest movie from Europe, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," and Golden Palm winner Emir Kusturica's eponymous tribute to football legend Maradona.
The 61st Cannes Film Festival will run from May 14 to 25.