(MENAFN - Arab Times) Ris may 9 (afp): cannes will roll out the red carpet on wednesday for the start of the world's biggest movie festival with a line-up of directorial big guns poised to go head-to-head in a year of comebacks swansongs and star debuts. heavyweights david cronenberg the dardenne brothers jean-luc godard mike leigh and ken loach are among the film-makers who will battle it out for the top palme d'or prize at the 67th cannes film festival. launching the 12-day movie extravaganza with a blast of controversy will be the premiere of 'grace of monaco' the keenly awaited biopic in which nicole kidman stars as the former hollywood actress grace kelly. already embroiled in not just one but two rows the film has become a high stakes affair for french director olivier dahan who has taken on both grace's princely family the grimaldis and us distributor harvey weinstein in pursuit of his cinematic vision.
dahan and weinstein have been locked in a dispute for months over what the frenchman has called weinstein's 'catastrophic' alternative version of the film. dahan's edit will be the one shown at cannes but reports say oscar-focused weinstein is still not happy and wants more scenes for us audiences covering the actress's time in hollywood. grace's children who are not expected at the premiere have denounced the film's trailer as a 'farce' and accused its makers of hijacking their family history for commercial purposes. there will however be no shortage of star-wattage with meryl streep john cusack robert pattinson juliette binoche tim roth and kristen stewart among the red carpet possibles. double oscar winner sophia loren 79 one of the last great sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s will supply some old-school glamour when she attends an out-of-competition screening of her latest film 'the human voice'. all eyes will also be on debuts by canadians ryan gosling and xavier dolan. gosling's 'lost river' ? in the new talent un certain regard section ? will test if the 33-year-old 'drive' star can make the transition from leading man to director. debut
and wonderkid dolan ? who at 25 has already had three films screened at cannes ? will make his debut in competition with 'mommy'. eighteen films will be in the running for this year's palme d'or with new zealand director jane campion heading the festival jury. famed for its winning combination of french riviera glitz and arthouse gravitas the festival prides itself on discovering the movie world 'auteurs' of tomorrow such as steven soderbergh and quentin tarantino. festival organisers select only a fraction of the 1700 films submitted each year to compete for the top prize with a competition slot at cannes considered one of the greatest honours that can be bestowed on a director. it will be the end of an era if as expected loach's 'jimmy's hall' turns out to be his final feature film before he gives up the director's chair to concentrate on documentaries. the british veteran film-maker and cannes regular 77 who made his name with 'up the junction' (1965) 'cathy come home' (1966) and 'kes' (1970) won the palme d'or in 2006 for 'the wind that shakes the barley'. others for whom this year could be their last cannes outing include french 'new wave' director jean-luc godard now 83. festival chief thierry fremaux admits it is anyone's guess whether the swiss godard will turn up for the screening of his 3d film 'adieu au langage'. he skipped the premiere of his movie 'socialism' in 2010 mysteriously blaming 'problems of the greek kind'. 'he has promised to be there which doesn't mean anything of course' fremaux joked last month. a more low key us presence for 2014 comes in the form of tommy lee jones' western 'the homesman' recommended to fremaux by last year's head of the jury steven spielberg. the film marks the 'men in black' actor's first return to the competition since he brought 'the three burials of melquiades estrada' to the croisette in 2005. competition
also back in competition are belgium's jean-pierre and luc dardenne with 'two days one night'; a win for the brothers would make them the first film-makers to lift the palme d'or for a third time. john boorman's 'queen and country' being screened out of competition in the directors' fortnight will be a festival highlight. the british director's sequel to his hugely popular 1987 film 'hope and glory' comes more than a quarter of a century after that film picked up five oscar nominations. asia and africa meanwhile will be represented in the main competition this year by japan's naomi kawase with 'still the water' and abderrahmane sissako from mauritania with 'timbuktu'.
take a furious princely family add a transatlantic row between prominent movie personalities top with hollywood superstar nicole kidman and you get the opening film of the 67th cannes film festival. the biopic 'grace of monaco' premieres on wednesday at the start of the glitzy event and already it is mired in controversy that threatens to cast a cloud over the very festival that allowed grace kelly to meet prince rainier iii in 1955. she wed him soon after in what the press dreamily described as the 'the marriage of the century' renouncing her career as the glamorous actress every american girl wanted to emulate and taking on the official role of a princess. but rather than illustrate her life as a whole the film focuses on a period of high tensions between the tiny rock and france in 1962 that prompted the princess to turn down an offer by alfred hitchcock to return to her beloved acting. while these are well-documented events the movie is not to everyone's liking ? least of all grace's children who have furiously disavowed it. prince albert ii and his sisters caroline and stephanie insist that the film which also features british actor tim roth as prince rainier does not accurately portray events involving their mother. 'the trailer appears to be a farce and confirms the totally fictional nature of this film' they said last week in a statement. 'the princely family does not in any way wish to be associated with this film which reflects no reality and regrets that its history has been misappropriated for purely commercial purposes.' for the film's french director olivier dahan ? who was behind the award-winning biopic of edith piaf 'la vie en rose' ? the reaction is 'a little disproportionate'. versions
he told the le parisien weekly magazine this month that the family had been given 'several versions' of the script and had 'suggested several modifications' some of which were taken into account. dahan acknowledged there was a slight anti-french feeling in the film as the story happens when prince rainier was locked in a fiscal row with then president charles de gaulle who was exasperated over french nationals taking up residence in monaco to avoid paying taxes. the following year monaco and france signed a pact ruling that all french residents in the rock would have to pay income tax to paris. as if the princely seal of disapproval was not enough dahan has been locked in a long-standing tussle with the film's powerful us distributor harvey weinstein. dahan and weinstein have been at loggerheads for months over the final version of the movie ? whose release has been delayed several times ? with director and producer accusing weinstein of trying to blackmail them into signing off on a new breezier edit. 'harvey weinstein has made a very different film where the order of scenes has changed and aspects of the script have been erased' producer pierre-ange le pogam told the le parisien magazine. 'we want to show a real crisis situation between grace and her husband and he wants to tell a fairytale give americans a lesson on monaco and grace kelly.' according to entertainment weekly variety weinstein is now considering dropping us distribution rights altogether if his version does not prevail in the united states. the film has been snapped up by many countries around the world including china where more than 3000 cinemas are waiting for it but americans may still have to wait a little longer. nevertheless despite all the controversy film-makers are banking on the power of grace kelly to enthral more than 30 years after her death in a car accident at the age of 52. 'i can see why a film-maker would want to put kelly back on screen even by proxy' jude quillan author of 'the comeback' a thriller that features kelly as a character told britain's the independent newspaper. 'she was gorgeous beguilingly enigmatic smart resourceful conflicted and totally timeless.'
here is a statistical snapshot of the may 14-25 cannes film festival:
* 1700: the feature-length films submitted to the festival of which 18 are in the competition for the palme d'or the festival's top prize and 20 in the new talent 'un certain regard' section.
* 19: the number of 18-carat gold leaves on the crystal palme d'or the festival's top prize. the award is made by swiss jewellers chopard.
* 12000: the movie professionals taking part in the 'the film market' the business arm of the festival where films are bought and sold.
* 8: the number of film-makers who have won cannes' top prize twice: billie august francis ford coppola jean-pierre and luc dardenne shohei imamura emir kusturica michael haneke and alf sjoberg.
* 60: the length in metres (yards) of cannes' fabled red carpet which ascends 24 steps at the palais des festivals. the red carpet gets used several times a day ahead of films that are shown in competition or for out-of-competition screenings.
* 400: the hand prints taken by nadine seul who each year seeks out the biggest stars to press their hands into a block of clay that is turned into a stainless steel cast and placed on the 'allee des etoiles' that winds its way around the palais des festivals.
* 4: the years excluding its suspension during wwii when the festival has been disrupted or failed to go ahead due to war shortage of funding or civil unrest: 1939; 1948 1950 and 1968.
* 4580: members of the media that covered the festival in 2013. over the decades interest has mushroomed with the media numbering just 700 in 1966 and 1150 in 1973.
following is a selection of cannes controversies ahead of this year's film festival which runs from may 14 to 25:
* princely seal of disapproval: if all publicity is good publicity then this year's opener 'grace of monaco' about the hollywood star who married her prince is off to a flying start.
'catastrophic' is how french director olivier dahan described what us distributor harvey weinstein wanted to do to his lovingly-crafted oeuvre although other comments were less repeatable.
just when the transatlantic row looked like it was quietening down the grimaldi family weighed in with their own howls of protest calling the trailer a 'farce' that confirmed 'the totally fictional nature' of the film.
the rumbling polemic threatens to cast more storm clouds over wednesday's opening ceremony when the movie starring nicole kidman will premiere and be simultaneously released in france and other cities around the world.
* faintings and walkouts: denmark's lars von trier's gothic thriller 'antichrist' about love and madness provoked gasps and walk-outs at the 2009 festival with its shots of a clitoris being sliced off with rusty scissors and male genitals smashed with a plank.
at least four people fainted and critics jeered during screenings but french actress charlotte gainsbourg won the best actress award for her sexually explicit role.
* professional provocateur: lars von trier also provided the controversy in 2011 when he told a news conference he sympathised 'a little bit' with adolf hitler prompting organisers to ban him from the festival.
'i understand hitler. i think he did some wrong things yes absolutely but i can see him sitting in his bunker in the end' von trier told reporters after a screening of his apocalyptic film 'melancholia'.
* hanky panky alert: british starlet simone silva caused a stir when she took her top off during a 1954 festival photo shoot with us superstar robert mitchum prompting a scrum among photographers that reportedly led to a few broken bones.
shocked festival organisers asked her to leave immediately and three years later the actress met an early demise when she died of a stroke aged 29 due to what her friends said was heavy dieting.
* political hand grenade: in 2004 the festival awarded michael moore the palme d'or for his anti-george bush documentary 'fahrenheit 9/11' prompting the us press to slam a 'political hand grenade lobbed at the white house'.
entertainment giant walt disney corp. found the film too contentious and refused to distribute it ahead of november presidential elections in the united states selling its rights to producers bob and harvey weinstein. bush went on to win a second term in office.
* lesbian sex epic: 'show-stopping' and 'scorching' was the critics' verdict on the explicit lesbian sex in 'blue is the warmest colour' the three-hour-long gay love story that was the talk of the 2013 festival.
entertainment industry magazine variety described it as 'a searingly intimate character study marked by the most explosively graphic lesbian sex scenes in recent memory' adding that it was also a serious film not just audience titillation.
the jury loved the film and awarded it the palme d'or. but the real controversy was yet to come. months afterwards lead actresses lea seydoux and adele exarchopoulos went public with hotly denied complaints about director abdellatif kechiche's working methods and seydoux bemoaned the difficulties of faking orgasms for six hours a day.
the cannes film festival opens on wednesday with a mix of big names and new faces going head-to-head in the race for the top palme d'or prize.
here are the 18 films chosen to compete before the jury headed by new zealand film-maker jane campion:
* 'clouds of sils maria' olivier assayas
* 'saint laurent' bertrand bonello
* 'winter sleep' nuri bilge ceylan
* 'maps to the stars' david cronenberg
* 'two days one night' jean-pierre and luc dardenne
* 'mommy' xavier dolan
* 'captives' atom egoyan
* 'goodbye to language' jean-luc godard
* 'the search' michel hazanavicius
* 'the homesman' tommy lee jones
* 'still the water' naomi kawase
* 'mr turner' mike leigh
* 'jimmy's hall' ken loach
* 'foxcatcher' bennett miller
* 'the wonders' alice rohrwacher
* 'wild tales' damian szifron
* 'timbuktu' abderrahmane sissako
* 'leviathan' andrei zvyagintsev
the cannes film festival's un certain regard competition showcases up-and-coming talent.
here are the 20 films chosen to compete before the jury headed by argentine scriptwriter producer and director pablo trapero as well as the films to be screened out of competition at the event:
* opening film: 'party girl' marie amachoukeli claire burger samuel theis
* 'jauja' lisandro alonso
* 'the blue room' mathieu amalric
* 'misunderstood' asia argento
* 'titli' kanu behl
* 'eleanor rigby' ned benson
* 'bird people' pascale ferran
* 'lost river' ryan gosling
* 'amour fou' jessica hausner
* 'charlie's country' rolf de heer
* 'snow in paradise' andrew hulme
* 'a girl at my door' july jung
* 'xenia' panos koutras
* 'run' philippe lacote
* 'white god' kornel mundruczo
* 'force majeure' ruben ostlund
* 'beautiful youth' jaime rosales
* 'fantasia' wang chao
* 'the salt of the earth' wim wenders juliano ribeiro salgado
* 'that lovely girl' keren yedaya
films to be screened out of competition:
* 'grace of monaco' (opening film) olivier dahan
* 'dragons 2' dean deblois
* 'coming home' zhang yimou
* 'the target' chang
* 'the salvation' kristian levring
* 'the rover' david michod
* 'les ponts de sarajevo' made by 13 directors including jean-luc godard and isild le besco
* 'red army' polsky gabe
* 'maidan' sergei loznitsa
* 'silvered water syria self-portrait' mohammed ossama wiam simav bedirxan
* 'cartoonists ? foot soldiers of democracy' stephanie valloatto
* 'les gens du monde' yves jeuland
* 'in the name of my daughter' andre techine
* 'of men and war' laurent becue-renard
* 'the owners' adilkhan yerzhanov
* 'geronimo' tony gatlif
* 'ardor' pablo fendrik
english titles given where available
here is a list of the feature films selected for the directors' fortnight sidebar to the main competition at the cannes film festival (may 14-25).
the non-competitive may 15-25 event is organised by the french directors' guild.
english titles are given where cited by festival organisers.
* 'alleluia' fabrice du welz
* 'next to her' asaf korman
* 'girlhood' celine sciamma
* 'catch me daddy' daniel wolfe
* 'cold in july' jim mickle
* 'fighters' thomas cailley
* 'gett-le proces de viviane amsalem' ronit and shlomi elkabetz
* 'the tale of princess kaguya' isao takahata
* 'a hard day' kim seong-hoon
* 'eat your bones' jean-charles hue
* 'national gallery' frederick wiseman
* 'li'l quinquin' bruno dumont
* 'pride' matthew warchus
* 'queen and country' john boorman
* 'refugiado' diego lerman
* 'the texas chain saw massacre' tobe hooper
* 'these final hours' zak hilditch
* 'tu dors nicole' stephane lafleur
* 'whiplash' damien chazelle
here is a list of the feature films selected for the may 15-23 critics' week running alongside the main cannes film festival (may 14-25).
english titles are given where cited by organisers.
'fla' djinn carrenard
* 'darker than midnight' sebastiano riso
* 'gente de bien' franco lolli
* 'hope' boris lojkine
* 'it follows' david robert mitchell
* 'self made' shira geffen
* 'the tribe' myroslav slaboshpytskiy
* 'when animals dream' jonas arnby
'respire' melanie laurent
'l'institutrice' nadav lapid
'hippocrate' thomas lilti