CANNES FILM FESTIVAL NAMES COMPETING FILMS
Quentin Tarantino will have the distinction of being the only American-born filmmaker to be competing in the 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival this year. Tarantino, who won the festival's prestigious Palme d'Or in 1994, will be debuting his Inglourious Basterds, frequently described as a World War II revenge caper. (Although the film is set in France, it was filmed mostly in Germany to take advantage of that country's tax incentives.) Taiwanese-born director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hulk, Brokeback Mountain, Lust, Caution), who became a U.S. citizen in 1983, will return to the festival with Taking Woodstock, which describes the origins of the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. Other highlights of the competition include the premiere of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces), New Zealand director Jane Campion's Bright Star, British film director Ken Loach's Looking for Eric, and Swedish director Lars Von Trier's Antichrist. The Cannes Film Festival is set to open on May 13 with the out-of-competition screening of Disney/Pixar's Up and to close on May 24 with the also-out-of-competition screening of Dutch filmmaker Jan Kounen's Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky.
CANNES COMPETITORS TO RECEIVE ONLINE SHOWCASE
Gilles Jacob, president of the Cannes Film Festival, has offered the festival's website as a showcase for the first five minutes of each of the 20 films participating in this year's competition. In a statement, Jacob said that the traditional movie trailer "extinguishes all desire" while it has been suggested that great directors are at their best in the first and last reels. "Let's hope that Internet users everywhere might drop their games and be tempted to rush to their nearest theater to find out what happens next," he remarked. At a news conference, festival director Thierry Fremaux indicated that he expected the current worldwide economic crisis to have little effect on the festival. "We haven't felt the slightest reluctance on anybody's part, anyone saying 'we have to watch out because of the crisis,'" he said, adding that Cannes would remain "the rendezvous for creators and the industry."
SUMMER IN WINTER HEATS UP BOX OFFICE
A decision by studio schedulers to move several "summer" films into the usually slow first quarter is being credited with producing one of the best annual starts for the movie industry ever, with revenue up 17 perccent and attendance up 15 percent over the same period a year ago. Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures, told Bloomberg News, "It's great news when pictures like Mall Cop, Taken, or Fast & Furious work" outside the summer and the Christmas season. Bloomberg noted that Paramount-DreamWorks Animation's Monsters vs. Aliens had originally been scheduled to open in May and that all three earlier Fast & Furious films were released in the summer.
JUDGE IN PIRATE BAY CASE ACCUSED OF BIAS
Lawyers for the four men convicted in the Pirate Bay case in Sweden said today (Thursday) that they will demand a retrial following revelations that the judge had been a member of three copyright-protection organizations. On Wednesday, the judge, Tomas Norström, confirmed a report by Swedish Radio about his membership in the groups but remarked, "I have not felt that I am biased because of those commitments." Peter Althin, the lawyer for Peter Sunde, who acted as the spokesman for the Pirate Bay four, told the Associated Press in Stockholm, "We should have known about this before. ... It is a clear case of bias." And Sven-Erik Alhem, Sweden's former director of public prosecution, has told the Swedish website Newsmill.se, "The attention this gets only leads to unnecessary questioning of bias in Swedish courts. Of course, the judge should have informed people of the situation prior to the process and thereby allowed the involved parties to decide if it was suitable or not."