Cannes screens last film before awards night

27th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 26, 2007 (AFP) - Cannes screened a deliberately crazy Serbian comedy Saturday, the last of 22 films competing for its prestigious Palme d'Or prize to be awarded this weekend.

CANNES, France, May 26, 2007 (AFP) - Cannes screened a deliberately crazy Serbian comedy Saturday, the last of 22 films competing for its prestigious Palme d'Or prize to be awarded this weekend.

Instead of being a climax to the 60th edition of the world's biggest film festival, however, "Promise Me This" had many reviewers dismissing it as a laboured exercise, a feeble fable colliding noisily with a circus.

But director Emir Kusturica, who has already won the Palme twice, rejected that view in a press conference.

"It's like the craziness as observed by a crazy guy," he said.

"I'm trying to be out of trends, I'm one of the few directors to do things that I absolutely like."

He noted his films are often pooh-poohed by movie critics, only to go on and do good business in many countries around the world.

"Promise Me This" follows a country teenager's trip to town to find a wife at the urging of his grandfather.

Once there, he gets caught up fighting a criminal gang that wants to recreate New York's World Trade Centre in Serbia with money from their prostitution ring, which is ensnaring his would-be bride.

Kusturica said he was trying to recapture some of the serious themes of 1970s and 1980s Western cinema, which in his view had been supplanted by more vapid fare.

"We are all becoming like global type teenagers who don't ask questions, and I'm trying to ask questions," he argued.

The main question for the 15,000 festival-goers in this Riviera resort, though, was: Which movie will win the Palme d'Or to be handed out in a ceremony late Sunday?

Kusturica's film looked unlikely to dislodge the critics' favourite, the Coen brothers' existential western, "No Country for Old Men".

Runners-up "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days", a Romanian film about the communist repression of liberty as told through a woman's backstreet abortion, and "Persepolis", an Iranian exile's animation whose depiction of life under the ayatollahs has angered Tehran, also looked safe.

But Cannes' jury is notoriously unpredictable. This year, the panel is led by Stephen Frears, the British director behind "The Queen". Which way it would jump was anyone's guess.  

Indeed, "Zodiac", a Hollywood film about a serial killer who terrorised California in the 1970s and 1980s, could find favour, as could the movie that opened the festival, "My Blueberry Nights", a beautiful if inconsequential romance by Hong Kong's Wong Kar-wai.

Quentin Tarantino, another previous Palme winner, could prove a wild-card with his "Death Proof", a rollicking homage to 1970s car-crazy flicks whose actresses' hotpants were slightly less substantial than the story.

For many who attended the festival, the real highlight was the glittering river of stars who walked the red carpet.

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, Jude Law, Martin Scorsese, U2, Norah Jones, Gong Li and Maggie Cheung were among the celebrities to turn out.

And this year, several of them brought Seriousness along with the superficial sparkle.

Clooney and the rest of his gang from "Ocean's 13" held a charity bash on a yacht that raised millions for the Sudanese displaced by the Darfur conflict, Stone hosted a charity auction for AIDS research, and DiCaprio promoted his film warning about global warming.

Jolie, long a champion for Africa's poor children, presented "A Mighty Heart", in which she plays the widow of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was decapitated by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in 2002.

Michael Moore, who won the Palme in 2003 for "Fahrenheit 9/11", was also polishing Cannes' polemical credentials with his new documentary, "Sicko", about the failings of the US health system, shown out of competition.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Festival de Cannes

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