Cannes Diary: Writing is 'sexless'

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The Independent Culture

Despite being just the fourth female president of the jury in 62 years, actress Isabelle Huppert said this meant little to her, or to womankind. "I don't believe there are male and female forms of writing," said the recipient of two previous Cannes Best Actress awards, "Cinema is universal." But fellow juror and British writer Hanif Kureishi questioned the lack of diversity: "I'm not sure we have had a black or Asian [president] and I'm not sure when that will occur."

Flying high

Disney's Pixar studios enlisted publicity assistants to hand plumes of balloons to passers-by outside the Palais des Festivals, ahead of the premiere of Up. Its 3D animators warned against imitating Up's 78-year-old protagonist, who uses helium balloons to lift his house from its foundations and float to South America. Director Pete Docter said Pixar scientists worked out that it would take 26.5 million balloons to do so: "There are people in the US who do things like this every year..."

Fateful lovers' tiff

One of the most promising British offerings in competition, Fish Tank, screened today, has an amateur as its star. Katie Jarvis, 17, plays Mia, whose life is turned on its head when her mother brings home a new boyfriend. The director, Andrea Arnold, said: "I wanted someone who would give me trouble for real, a girl... who could just be herself. We started looking in Essex, in youth clubs, markets, shopping centres, anywhere teenage girls would hang out. Katie was found on Tilbury Town Station arguing with her boyfriend. When she was approached she didn't believe it was really for a film and wouldn't hand over her number."

Knock-down party

The recession hits Cannes. Vodka brand Akvinta hosts "one of the most glamorous parties" on Monday... a domino contest. Guest of honour is Penelope Cruz, star of Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces, screened in competition next week.