Aussie goes for first-time gold in glittering line-up
Can finally win Baz Luhrmann the Palme d’or?
HE roll-call of directors for Cannes, which opened overnight, is always impressive and 2013 is no exception with Nicholas Winding Refn, the Coen brothers, Steven Soderbergh and Roman Polanski among those competing.
But will Baz Luhrmann’s lavish production of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic The Great Gatsby be able to convince the jury, led by Stephen Spielberg, to award the coveted Palme d’Or prize to an Australian for the first time? Luhrmann’s festival-opening entry is up against previous Palme winner Soderbergh, who is presenting Behind The Candelabra, a biopic of pianist Liberace starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
Ryan Gosling’s second film with Drive director Winding Refn, Only God Forgives, which stars Gosling as a criminal in the Bangkok underworld alongside Kristin Scott Thomas, has also been shortlisted for the coveted award.
Ethan and Joel Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, set in New York’s ’60s folk music scene, stars Justin Timberlake, John Goodman and The Great Gatsby’s Carey Mulligan.
Polanski, who first competed in Cannes in 1976, is screening Venus in Fur featuring his wife Emmanuelle Seigner in an adaptation of a Broadway play drawn from an erotic novel by Leopold Sacher-Masoch – who inspired the term masochism.
Nineteen movies are in the running for the Palme d’Or, but others may be added in the coming weeks, the organisers say. Only one director is a woman – Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, sister of former French first lady Carla Bruni, with Un Chateau en Italie.
Last year’s line-up did not include any women directors. But festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux says the films had been selected strictly on merit.
‘‘Valeria’s film is not in competition because she is a woman but because we liked it,’’ he says.
Asian films with their hat in the ring for the Palme d’Or include Japanese directors Takashi Miike with the thriller Wara no Tate ( Shield of Straw) and Kore-eda Hirokazu with Soshite Chichi ni Naru ( Like Father Like Son) and China’s Jia Zhangke for Tian Zhu Ding ( A Touch of Sin).
The festival will also turn the spotlight on obscure directors and young talents, and has a tradition of screening quirky or provocative movies.
Sofia Coppola’s film The Bling Ring, starring Harry Potter star Emma Watson, will open the newcomers’ section called Un Certain Regard. Inspired by a true story, the film recounts how a group of adolescents rob celebrities’ homes after becoming obsessed with the world of ‘‘beautiful people’’ and luxury goods.
India, meanwhile, is to be Cannes’ third guest country, following Egypt and Brazil, with a gala screening of Bombay Talkies, a four-part feature by four up-and-coming Indian directors.
US comedy star Jerry Lewis, 87, will get a special tribute. Lewis will attend a screening of his latest film, Max Rose, in which he plays the role of an elderly jazz pianist facing the loss of his wife.
Jerome Salle’s film Zulu, starring Forest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom, will bring proceedings to a close.
Amelie star Audrey Tautou serves as mistress of ceremonies for this year’s festival.
The Cannes Film Festival until May 26. The Great Gatsby opens in Australia on May 30.
French actress and mistress of ceremonies at the Cannes Film Festival, Audrey Tautou.