Dirty Harry meets Indiana Jones as Cannes catches festival fever

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The annual Cannes’ film festival which kicks off on 14 May is due for some top-notch A-list stars such as Robert De Niro and Madonna.

14 May 2008

CANNES - Hollywood heavyweights Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford squared up against kung fu pandas and arthouse directors as Cannes on Wednesday caught its annual dose of film festival fever.

Ford, advancing in years but still cracking a bullwhip, flies in to the planet's top cinema showcase for the release of Steven Spielberg's fourth episode of the "Indiana Jones" saga, the festival's centrepiece.

Spielberg has given little away about "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" but fans who have waited 19 years for this latest instalment can expect swash-buckling galore from the intrepid archaeologist.

Eastwood is hoping for the coveted Palme d'Or best film prize with his child-abduction drama "Changeling" starring Angelina Jolie.

But he might also trigger a riot when he personally presents a public screening on the Riviera town's palm-fringed beach of a restored version of his 1971 cop classic "Dirty Harry."

Other A-list stars set to walk Cannes' famed red carpet at the 14-25 May fest include Robert De Niro, who will hand out the Palme d'Or, Madonna, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem.

The 61st edition of Cannes, whose jury is led by Sean Penn, has a strong Latin American contingent, with Brazil's twice Oscar-nominated Fernando Meirelles opening the festival with a philosophical thriller titled "Blindness".

Another Brazilian, Walter Salles, presents a football-themed "Line Of Passage," and two movies from Argentina will also compete for the top prize.

Also on a Latino theme, Steven Soderbergh brings a four-hour epic on the world's best-loved revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, portrayed by Benicio Del Toro.

This year's festival has a lot of serious flicks, but fun gets a look in with movies like the animated "Kung Fu Panda," which uses the voices of the likes of Jack Black and Angelina Jolie to tell the story of a slacker bear who takes to martial arts to fight evil oppressors.

Among the heavy-duty line-up competing for the Palme d'Or are previous winners, Canada's Atom Egoyan with "Adoration," Germany's Wim Wenders showing "The Palermo Shooting" and Belgium's Dardenne brothers with "The Silence of Lorna".

Cinephiles swayed by the seriously arty side of Cannes will be served by new offerings from China's Jia Zhangke, Filipino Brillante Mendoza, Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan and a first-ever feature from Charlie Kaufman, the US screenwriter behind "Being John Malkovich".

Sporting giants Diego Maradona and Mike Tyson were also set to join the jet set on the Riviera.

Serbian director Emir Kusturica is showing a documentary about the Argentinian footballer who once knocked England out the World Cup with a little help from his hand, while US heavyweight boxer Tyson is the subject of another documentary.

Cannes swells three-fold to 200,000 for the yearly orgy of glitzy movie promotion, parties and screenings that brings together industry types, movie-buffs and celebrity-watchers.

The fest is as much about hard-nosed business as art, with around a billion dollars worth of movie business clinched every year, said the head of the Cannes Film Market Jerome Paillard.

This year as usual, organisers who picked out the 22 films selected to run for the Palme among 1,792 features submitted, went for a savvy blend of stars and veterans, arthouse fare, and new international talent.

With around 1,000 films screened and 30,000 registered visitors, Cannes shapes what movie-goers across the world see over the coming year.

Among young directors in competition this year are Israel's Ari Folman, offering an animated documentary on the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Beirut, while the two film-makers from Argentina, Pablo Trapero and Lucrecia Martel, are running for the trophy for the first time ever.

Star attractions outside of the official competition - alongside the panda flick and the latest "Indiana Jones" - are a South Korean "kimshi" Western titled "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" and Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona".

[AFP / Expatica]

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