59th annual Cannes Film Festival

CANNES :The curtain will go up on the 59th annual Cannes Film Festival on 17 May 2006 in the picturesque southern French resort. Details of the festival are going to become available only by tomorrow. But what is known so far is that Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai has been named to head the jury at the prestigious film festival, the first time that the honour has been awarded to a Chinese film-maker. the maker of films such as Happy Together, In the Mood for Love, 2046) will be at the helm of the group that decides who will will win this year’s “Golden Palm”, the official award of the Cannes Film competition. What is also known is that Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi has accepted an invitation to be a jury member. The 27-year-old Zhang has won wide acclaim for performances in movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers and Memoirs of a Geisha.

Finally another artist who will make his presence felt at the festival is French actor Vincent Cassel who will serve as the Master of Ceremonies, launching it by welcoming Wong Kar Wai and his Jury onto the stage of the Palais des Festivals. He will equally host the Closing Ceremony on 28 May when the awards are announced.Among the movies which are slated to open the fest is Sony’s The Da Vinci Code, which has its worldwide premiere here. Then the French flick Paris je t’Aime with a multidirector, multistarrer 20 love stories weaved into one movie will open the official selection sidebar Un Certain Regard on 18 May.

Among directors whose works are scheduled to be screened at the festival according to Variety figure Sofia Coppola’s Maria Antoinette; Climates, by Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and French director Nicole Garcia’s Selon Charlie, X-Men: The Last Stand , DreamWorks’ latest animated film, Over the Hedge, starring Bruce Willis, Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center which will offer a 20-minute preview and the director will be honored during a 20th anniversary tribute to Platoon.

As far as Indian film makers go, there is not much clarity on who who is going. An exception is the cast of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara or Issak which is jetting it to the sunny French resort. Addtionally, Provoked a film starring Aishwarya Rai is slated to debut at the festival. Other actors who are expected to be there include: Preity Zinta and Ajay Devgan

Finally, an Indian name figures in The Atelier du Festival, organised by the Cinéfoundation, which has selected Dev Benegal among its list of 18 film makers for its second edition during the Cannes Film festival. Among these figure: Teboho Mahlatsi (South Africa), Santiago Palavecino (Argentina), Christina Andreef (Australia), Bernard Bellefroid (Belgium), José Luis Torres Leiva (Chile), Wang Bing (China), Goran Rušinovic (Croatia), Luiso Berdejo (Spain), Cruz Angeles (United States), Richard Press (United States), Fabrice Genestal (France), Michelange Quay (Haiti), Dev Benegal (India), Dover Kosahvili (Israel), Cristi Puiu (Romania), Ilya Khrzhanovsky (Russia), Ursula Meier (Switzerland) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand).

This selection consecrates both recognised talents such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Jury Prize – Cannes 2004), Cristi Puiu (Prize Un Certain Regard, 2005), Wang Bing and Dover Kosahvili, as well as young directors who have already made a name for themselves thanks to their shorts, award-winners at many international film festivals, notably Michelange Quay, Richard Press and Teboho Mahlatsi.

For the laureates and their producers, invited for the entire length of the Festival de Cannes, the Atelier will bring about meetings with professionals and organise individual appointments to enable the producer, associated with the project, to complete already-acquired financing and thus quickly step up to actually making the film.

The 2005 Atelier already enabled Paz Encina (Paraguay), Gerardo Naranjo (Mexico) and Imunga Ivanga (Gabon) to finish their films; three other projects are currently being shot, and seven before the end of the year.