FILM / Cannes preview

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The Independent Culture
THE HOLLYWOOD majors are conspicuous by their absence from the Cannes line-up, which was announced yesterday. There are studio pictures, to be sure, but from maverick independent directors: the festival is book-ended by the Coen brothers' well-regarded The Hudsucker Proxy, which opens Cannes on 12 May, while another comedy, John Waters' Serial Mom, closes it on 23 May.

In between we have Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle, by Alan Rudolph, and Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. Hal Hartley's new film, Amateur, will probably play in the Directors' Fortnight, which has not been unveiled yet. The solitary British film, Mike Figgis's The Browning Version, is technically a UK / US co-production but, according to Screen International, it will be flying the Union Jack.

From the rest of the world, Giuseppe Tornatore, who was a great hit at Cannes a couple of years back with Cinema Paradiso, has a new film, A Simple Formality. The cult Canadian director Atom Egoyan moves from the side-bar events into the competition for the first time with Exotica. Kieslowski will, as expected, be presenting Three Colours: Red, the third part of his Blue, White, Red trilogy.

Also as expected, Zhang Yimou, the director of Raise the Red Lantern and The Story of Qiu Ju, is coming with his new film Lifetimes. And, again from the Far East, Edward Yang, whose four-hour epic about Taiwanese gangs A Brighter Summer's Day was shown here last year to great critical acclaim, is present with the intriguingly titled Confucian Confession.

The festival will see some interesting sibling rivalry: the Russians Andrei Konchalovsky and Nikita Mikhalkov (brothers despite their different surnames) both have films in competition. Konchalovsky has been based largely abroad over the last few years, although his new film is a French-Russian co-production, while Mikhalkov has stayed European-based, making films like Dark Eyes and Urga. It will be interesting to compare their entries.

From France, Eric Rochant (the director of A World Without Pity) has a new film, The Patriots, Patrice Chereau has Queen Margot and the actor Michel Blanc is making his directorial debut with something called The Big Fatigue. As usual there are no films from South America (film production in that continent is in crisis), although Latin America has Arturo Ripstein's The Queen of the Night. Other entries come from Tunisia, Romania, Iran and Cambodia.

To make up for the lack of star power in competition, Hollywood heavyweight Clint Eastwood, a Cannes favourite, will preside over a jury which also includes Catherine Deneuve. SJ