Cannes finale: Riviera festival readies for awards night with slim pickings

By David Germain, AP
Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cannes finale: Festival readies for awards night

CANNES, France — Three past winners of the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival — Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Abbas Kiarostami — are in the running for the same award again as 19 films compete at the world’s premier cinema showcase.

Critics have been generally unimpressed with the lineup Cannes presented at the 12-day festival along the French Riviera, with a handful of films stirring some buzz but most of the entries premiering to lukewarm receptions.

The festival ends Sunday night with the awards ceremony and a screening of the closing film, French director Julie Bertuccelli’s “The Tree,” a family drama starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, who won the best-actress award at Cannes last year for “Antichrist.”

Kristin Scott Thomas, who presided over the festival’s opening ceremonies, handles the same duties for awards night.

British director Leigh’s ensemble drama “Another Year,” featuring Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton, received favorable reviews, particularly for co-star Lesley Manville as a lonely middle-aged woman desperate for companionship. Leigh’s “Secrets and Lies” won the festival’s top honor, the Palme d’Or, in 1996.

Fellow British director Loach, whose “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” won that prize at Cannes in 2006, competes again with his Iraq War thriller “Route Irish.” Iranian director Kiarostami, who earned the Palme d’Or in 1997 with “Taste of Cherry,” is entered this year with his cryptic love story “Certified Copy,” starring Juliette Binoche.

Other solid contenders include Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful,” starring Javier Bardem as a father on the edge of the law; Frenchman Xavier Beauvois’ “Of Gods and Men,” centered on a group of martyred monks in North Africa; and South Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong’s “Poetry,” about a grandmother who finds solace writing poems amid the onset of Alzheimer’s and troubles with her broody grandson.

“Alice in Wonderland” director Tim Burton heads the jury that will decide on Cannes award winners. The nine-member jury also includes actors Kate Beckinsale and Benicio Del Toro and director Shekhar Kapur.


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