Cannes, part deux

Which hits from this year's festival will come to Britain? Sheila Johnston reports
It was, everyone agreed, a quiet Cannes, with low activity among the deal-makers and no hot movie to emerge from the shadows as Strictly Ballroom did a couple of years back. The trend is to buy up movies while they're still a gleam in their makers' eyes; the best ones have all been spoken for long before they hit the festival circuit.

Of the prizewinners, Carrington will open on 22 September. Christopher Hampton's film of the bittersweet, platonic love affair between the painter Dora Carrington and the homosexual writer Lytton Strachey took the Special Jury Prize and Best Actor for its star, Jonathan Pryce. La Haine (Hate), an impressive second feature by the French film-maker Mathieu Kassovitz (named Best Director) about three kids living on a Paris council estate, will be released later this year, as will Shanghai Triad, Zhang Yimou's opulent, slightly disappointing gangster drama, which won the award for technical achievement.

The arthouse distributor Artificial Eye has boldly acquired Theo Angelopoulos's three-hour Ulysses' Gaze, in which Harvey Keitel's film-maker travels through the war-ravaged Balkans, although it won't open here until next spring. But the Golden Palm winner, Underground, Emir Kusterica's equally marathon black comedy set in post-Second World War Yugoslavia, still awaits a British buyer.

Kusterica also won the Palm 10 years ago for When Father Was Away on Business, which did open in the UK, as did Time of the Gipsies. And his rather peculiar foray into the American cinema, Arizona Dream, starring Jerry Lewis, Faye Dunaway and the ubiquitous Johnny Depp, arrives in London next week after a long spell in limbo. But Kusterica has never been big box-office here, and the price-tag on Underground after its Cannes win is said to be hefty. The director is reported to be chopping 20 minutes for its theatrical release, which may ease matters.

Of the other competition entries, Ken Loach's Spanish Civil War drama Land and Freedom (shamefully snubbed at the prizegiving) and Terence Davies's delicate period piece, The Neon Bible, are both scheduled for the early autumn.

September dates are pencilled in for Angels and Insects, Philip Haas's intriguing Victorian psychodrama starring Kristin Scott-Thomas and Patsy Kensit, and for the opening-night film, The City of Lost Children, a special- effects laden sci-fi comedy from the makers of Delicatessen. John Boorman's Beyond Rangoon, with Patricia Arquette as an American doctor stranded in Burma, played in competition, but was not well received; it opens next Friday. Dead Man, Jim Jarmusch's offbeat black-and-white western with Johnny Depp, screened too late in the festival for critics to review it, will arrive later this year.

Two pieces of good news: Electric has acquired The White Balloon, a small, but beautifully made Iranian film that played in the Directors' Fortnight and won the Camera D'Or for Best First Feature. And one of the best films from Cannes last year, Nikita Mikhalkov's Burnt by the Sun, a Chekhovian drama set at the dawn of Stalin's purges, is finally on the way; shame that we should have had to wait so long.

But American independents hog most buyers' shopping baskets. Metro Pictures has Stonewall, about the gay rights movement; Safe, the new film from Todd Haynes who directed the cult movie Poison; and Search and Destroy, starring John Turturro. First Independent has bought Basketball Diaries, in which Leonardo Dicaprio battles heroin addiction.

The Usual Suspects, Bryan Singer's ingenious and much-praised film noir, is set to open here on 25 August. Also coming soon: To Die For, Gus van Sant's diverting black comedy starring Nicole Kidman as a fame-obsessed housewife; Heavy, a comedy about an overweight pizza chef; and Denise Calls Up, about people who communicate entirely by phone; When Saturday Comes, a British drama with Emily Lloyd; and The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down a Mountain, a comedy with Hugh Grant which was well- received in the Un Certain Regard programme.

Comments