Canned Cannes: Dustin's new direction

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The Independent Culture

Dustin Hoffman did not have to think too long or too hard when he was offered the chance to direct his first film, according to Jane Wright, the managing director of BBC Films, which will make Quartet, the actor's debut from behind the camera lens. A British venture starring Dame Maggie Smith, Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay as ageing opera singers, Hoffman reportedly accepted the challenge with considerable excitement. He had made known his desire to venture into directing, said Ms Wright, adding: "He's got access to incredible amounts of material. This film is the one he really wanted to do". The 72-year-old was, according to BBC Films, "slightly in awe of the cast". It seems beyond doubt that they will be in awe of their director.

Carrying on regardless

The reclusive film-maker Jean-Luc Godard, who is sometimes referred to as "God" and whose rare appearance at a press conference yesterday had been highly anticipated, cancelled his trip to Cannes at the last minute. Godard, 79, had been due to talk about his movie Film Socialisme, which is competing in the "Un Certain Regard" category at the festival. But in a fax to the festival's chief programmer, Thierry Frémaux, Godard reportedly attributed his absence to "problems of the Greek type". Has some kind of tragedy befallen the film-maker? We certainly hope not.

A critical request

The Hollywood Reporter was sent an urgent message by a representative of the esteemed American film critic and screenwriter Roger Ebert, requesting it be broadcast. The acerbic critic has been left unable to speak after a long battle with thyroid cancer. It read: "Reward for Return of Roger Ebert's Computer. A MacBook Pro that he uses to speak with. It was left in a taxi at the Carlton hotel in Cannes on 16 May, inside a brown tote bag. Also contains mini-speakers and a black sweater." Here's hoping the man and his machine are reunited soon.

A moving tale

A sequel to the British-Asian comedy East Is East, which will tell the story of the Muslim father and his English wife struggling to raise their unruly brood of seven children in Salford, is in the works. West Is West will see the family revisited a decade on, with Om Puri and Linda Bassett reprising their roles as George and Ella Khan and Jimi Mistry returning to play one of their sons. The storyline will centre upon Sajid, the youngest of the Khan children, who is taken back to Pakistan, where George has a painful confrontation with his first wife and children – a part of his family that he left behind years earlier.

Bardem steals the spotlight

The actor Javier Bardem poses during a photocall yesterday for the film Biutiful in competition at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. Bardem, who won an Oscar for his role in No Country for Old Men, takes the lead role in the film by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Mexican director behind Babel, 21 Grams and Amores Perros. It is one of 19 entries competing for the Palme d'Or award.