“It's still an incomplete selection. With the new technology we still have time to view more films and there could be additions to this list,” Thierry Fremaux, the director-general of the Cannes Film Festival told an over-crowded press conference at the Grand Hotel in Paris on Thursday, announcing the jury and the line up of the festival which kicks off in the French Riviera city of Cannes on May 12.
The list of films was revealed a week earlier than usual with the result that the present list of sixteen films now in competition for the Golden Palm award could well count a few other names on opening night.
Only one Indian film, Vikramaditya Motwane's directorial debut Udaan, has made it to Cannes this year. Indian director Shekhar Kapur is part of the Festival Jury chaired by U.S. film director Tim Burton who recently released his film version of Alice in Wonderland; the festival will open with a screening of Ridley Scott's Robin Hood.
Udaan, featuring Ronit Roy and Ram Kapoor, will not be screened in the Competition section but will instead figure in the section called Un Certain Regard.
The press conference started on a note of controversy with four press agencies boycotting the conference because of differences over the use of video rights. Despite the presence of Hollywood greats such as Woody Allen and Oliver Stone, the U.S. presence in the competition section is tame. Just one feature film, Doug Liman's examination of the Valerie Plame case. Ms Plame, a CIA agent who was unmasked because her husband, a diplomat, openly opposed the war on Iraq, will be played by Naomi Watts.
Ms. Watts also features in Woody Allen's film entitled You will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, where she plays against Antonio Banderas. The film will not be in competition at the request of the director. Oliver Stone comes to Cannes with a sequel to his very successful Wall Street, a film about the world of high finance.
The French presence is strong, with new films by legendary directors such as Jean Luc Goddard, one of the fathers of the French new wave and Bertrand Tavernier. More recent but equally strong cinematic voices include Mathieu Amalric and Xavier Beauvois.
“The festival is not just an Americano-European affair. We have several films from other parts of the world, many in competition,” said Thierry Fremaux. The award-winning Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami has filmed Juliette Binoche, who is on this year's festival poster. Russian, British, Chadian, Ukrainian, Korean, Thai and Mexican films will also be screened.