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Soderbergh, Coen brothers, Polanski in Cannes shortlist

The official Cannes poster, featuring a still of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman in “A New Kind of Love,” 1963.

PARIS: Movies by U.S. directors Steven Soderbergh and the Coen Brothers, Nicolas Winding Refn of Denmark and France’s Roman Polanski are among contenders for the coveted Palme d’Or at next month’s Cannes Film Festival, organizers said Thursday.

Soderbergh’s eagerly awaited “Behind the Candelabra,” with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, recounts the life of flamboyant pianist-entertainer Liberace, who masked his homosexuality from public view.

Another much-anticipated film is Refn’s “Only God Forgives,” starring Ryan Gosling in a gangland thriller set in Bangkok.

Also making the Cannes cut is “Inside Llewyn Davis” by Joel and Ethan Coen starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake in a tale about a singer-songwriter in the 1960s folk scene in New York.

Polanski, 79, first competed in Cannes back in 1976. His entry, “Venus in Fur,” features his wife Emmanuelle Seigner alongside Mathieu Amalric in an adaptation of a Broadway play drawn from an erotic novel by Leopold Sacher-Masoch.

Nineteen movies are in the running for the Golden Palm, but others may be added in the coming weeks, the organizers said.

Only one director, though, is a woman – Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, sister of former French first lady Carla Bruni, with “Un Chateau en Italie.” Last year’s lineup included no female directors.

Famed for its top-grade celebrities, glitzy parties and luxury yachts, the festival this year will see Robert Redford and Marion Cotillard as well as Douglas and Damon among the VIPs.

The festival will also turn the spotlight on obscure directors and young talents, and has a tradition of screening quirky and provocative films.

Cannes is a “temple that’s really important to protect the more adventurous filmmaking that’s going on around the world,” Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle told AFP in Paris earlier this week.

Sofia Coppola’s film “The Bling Ring,” featuring 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 consumer goods.

Jerry Lewis, the U.S. comedy star from the 1950s and 1960s who later poured his efforts into raising money for muscular dystrophy research, will get a special tribute.

The 87-year-old entertainer, who has a history of ill health, will attend a screening of his latest film, “Max Rose,” playing the role of an elderly jazz pianist facing the loss of his wife.

Twelve years after Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” opened the 2001 festival, his latest film, “The Great Gatsby,” will do the opening honors with Leonardo DiCaprio and Mulligan in a remake of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The film will screen out of competition.

Set on the U.S. East Coast of the Roaring ’20s, the film stars DiCaprio as Fitzgerald’s mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, battling to win the heart of Daisy, a girl he courted in his youth, played by Mulligan.

Jerome Salle’s film “Zulu,” starring Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom, will bring proceedings to a close on May 26.

“Zulu” is set in Cape Town against the background of a South Africa still overshadowed by apartheid, where affluent suburbs rub shoulders with dirt-poor townships.

Whitaker won the best actor Academy Award in 2007 for his role as former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland” and best actor at Cannes in 1988 for his part in Clint Eastwood’s “Bird.”

Aside from the movie screenings, Cannes is also a huge marketplace, gathering thousands of people from producers and distributors haggling over upcoming movies to screenwriters hawking scripts and firms offering innovations in computer-generated imagery.

The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 15 to 26.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 19, 2013, on page 16.

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