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The presentation of the Cannes selection

The Official Selection of the Festival de Cannes 2006 will, as every year, be made up films presented in: the Competition, Un Certain Regard, Out of Competition screenings.

It offers both a shorts and film schools competition (Cinéfondation).

Cannes Classics concerns heritage films, shown principally in the Buñuel Theatre.

Finally, in addition to the theatres of the Palais (Lumière, Debussy, Buñuel, Bazin) now the Beach Cinema offers festival-goers and Cannes residents alike outdoors screenings.

- What are the criteria used for a film to be selected for Cannes?

That is the most important question... and the answer is the most difficult to formulate. Cannes remains faithful to its principles, and the philosophy which leads the selection equally remains the same: highlighting auteur cinema, the search for singular voices in different cultures, qualities of direction, the practice of cinema as art, a world which recognises itself through the films screened. To this must be added the relationship between the state of cinema and that of its audiences, as well as the massive presence of journalists and professionals. The Festival de Cannes, finally, derives from alchemy of author's cinema, glamour, market and press.

- We know that, over recent years, new image-creation technologies have led to a highly significant increase in the number of films submitted for selection at Cannes...

Yes, such is once again the case this year.

- Nevertheless, the number of selected films doesn't likewise increase?

No. Quantitative increase doesn't necessarily entail qualitative and, in any event, there's no point in multiplying the selections. On the contrary, we are more than ever anxious to present a tight selection to better highlight the films. Cannes will never be a 300-film festival. The Official Selection represents about fifty, no more; for the rest, a large share of the world's production is presented at the Marché, the largest in the world. That is why the number of films selected has remained identical, even though the Competition will last ten days, that is to say one more than in 2004 or 2005. The programming schedule will thus be lightened.

- That is to say?

After the opening on Wednesday, May 17th, with the Out of Competition, presentation of Ron Howard's Da Vinci Code, the Competition and Un Certain Regard will commence on Thursday, May 18th and will continue until Saturday, May 27th. The Awards will be announced Sunday, May 28th at the Closing Ceremony. Outside the Opening and Closing, we shall therefore have 10 days of Competition.

- How is this Official Selection organised?

2006 Cannes will present 55 films representing 30 countries. In all, we shall attend 48 world premieres, a figure which testifies to the resolution of the Festival de Cannes to present unreleased works. There will be in Competition 20 feature films from 13 countries. The Selection equally will present 8 debut films.

- The 2005 Festival was marked by the massive presence of recognised directors, as the awards testified (Golden Palm for the Dardenne brothers, Grand Prix for Jim Jarmusch, Best Director for Michael Haneke). Is this the case again this year?

The Festival de Cannes is the privileged venue where great directors present their latest opuses. This year, we'll find once again Nanni Moretti (Golden Palm in 2001 with The Son's Room), who returns with his new film, The Caiman), Aki Kaurismäki (Grand Prix 2002 for The Man Without a Past), who presents Lights of the Suburb, Pedro Almodovar (Best Director Prize in 1999 for All About My Mother), who comes back with Volver, Ken Loach (Prize for Best Script in 2002 with Sweet Sixteen) who presents The Wind That Shakes the Barley or finally the French Bruno Dumont and Nicole Garcia, who've already come in Competition. But amid the whole Competition, new names appear...

- Isn't this the case every year?

Yes, we try hard in fact not to stagnate the Selection; even if faithfulness to those artists who have helped make Cannes what it is today counts very much for us. But over the last few years, we've wished to throw open the doors and windows to let in a burst of fresh air of contemporary creation, not hesitating to go beyond the limits normally assigned to an international festival. By trying to shift the lines. Along with Gilles Jacob, we had made the wish to see genre cinema, animation and the documentary attain a visibility corresponding to the place which is rightfully theirs in world cinema and in the sensitivities of today's critics and audiences. Today, this has been accomplished.

- How might one classify 2006?

The 2006 selection should be classified in the category of "renewal years". For the Competition, three groups of films may be distinguished. First, as just mentioned, a group of recognised filmmakers: Nanni Moretti, Pedro Almodovar, Aki Kaurismäki or Ken Loach, as well as Bruno Dumont and Nicole Garcia, returning both for the second time in Competition.

The second group represents the "rising generation": Sofia Coppola, Paolo Sorrentino, Rachid Bouchareb, Alejandro Gonzales-Inarritu, Lou Ye, Richard Linklater or French director Xavier Giannoli.

The third group finally welcomes filmmakers with original films whose presence in Competition will ring a particular echo. They range from Mexico's Guillermo del Toro to the American Richard Kelly who will be the youngest at the Competition as he's only 30 years old.

Moreover, Un Certain Regard, if one closely studies the nature of its composition, presents an appreciably different face, with here as well a blend of well-known names and young filmmakers.

- Is the discovery of new talents the major challenge of today's cinema?

Yes, it is a fundamental challenge but not the only one. We are not obsessed with discovery and are anxious to show famous filmmakers within the framework of their on-going work. And we distrust excessive displays which can prove dangerous: the audiences at Cannes are connoisseurs and even if they enjoy being surprised by the appearance of new names, they remain above all highly demanding.

But the presence at Cannes of some filmmakers is the result of scouting carried out in search of young creators for several years now. Moreover, by looking close, you will see in the Official Selection names which have already appeared on the Croisette as "young filmmakers".

- Who for example?

For example, the Romanian filmmaker Catalin Mitulescu or French director Xavier Giannoli won the Shorts Golden Palm in the past. They find themselves together in the Official Selection this year. Mexico's Francisco Vargas, competing in Un Certain Regard, comes from the Cinéfondation, as does Polish director Adam Guzinski, First Prize of the Cinéfondation 1998.

There begins to appear ties of filiation within the very Official Selection, between the Competition, Un Certain Regard and the Cinéfondation, the shorts, the Residence and the Atelier (launched last year). Consequently, this enables Cannes to proceed to a certain traceability of the filmmakers and talents, which proves that the Festival contributes as well to energising creation.

- That is to say?

By putting both its prestige and means in the service of creation upstream, we wish to assert that a great international festival isn't obliged to content itself with just screening films. It must search for new paths, promote directors and countries, and contribute to establishing new bonds between creators and producers. A festival, while remaining based, as we wish, on a narrow Official Selection, must not reduce its sphere of activity but widen it. This was Gilles Jacob's wish when creating the first Golden Camera in 1978 then the Cinéfondation some twenty years later.

- Does this work bear its fruit?

Indisputably. And you should not see in this any narcissistic charge that consists in valorising our own "genetic heritage": it is simply about a vital stake for the world's film diversity. Moreover, the Festival de Cannes isn't the only one to develop this practice because Rotterdam, San Sebastian and even Pusan in Korea have equally created writing grants, development funding and production supports.

- You said earlier that the number of films submitted for selection is still increasing. Have you made special arrangements?

Yes, we've created a third selection committee in Paris to be able to screen all these films, as the two committees that already exist (foreign and French films) not no longer suffice. Moreover, the Festival de Cannes develops its correspondents' networks throughout the world. I should, moreover, like to thank and pay tribute to all those who, in a regular way or not, share with me their knowledge and advice all year round throughout the world. The selection, even if I assume full responsibility, is above all a matter of teamwork, all the more so as watching films stimulates debate and nourishes the exchange of opinions. And I hope that lively discussions will continue between festival-goers.

- Let's return to the composition of the Official Selection. What is striking is the strong European presence in selection...

Indeed, Europe remains great motion-picture continent. Over recent years, we've sense an East wind rising. The 2006 selection confirms it: Poland, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania are again present. Let it be recalled that it was the Romanian film by Cristi Puiu that walked away with the prize of Un Certain Regard in 2005.

We also find in the 2006 edition of Un Certain Regard films from the Scotland, Norway, Italy and Spain. With its masters present in Competition (Almodovar, Moretti, Kaurismäki, Loach), Europe recalls, if need be, that it does indeed possess a truly great motion picture industry.

- Asian cinema confirms its importance...

There would be a lot to say on the fundamental contribution of films from Asia over recent years. From an artistic point, a great festival can no longer exist without Asian films. From the point of view of the industry, professionals come in ever greater numbers to the Festival. In 2006, we find China in Competition, Out of Competition and in Un Certain Regard. Cannes continues to pay particular attention to the films of this continent, from India to China. And to its artists: from this standpoint, Wong Kar Wai's choice as Jury President represents a strong signal which we wished to send out.

- You evoked the renewal of generations. This seems to particularly apply American motion pictures...

Yes. Richard Linklater, Richard Kelly and Sofia Coppola: the American filmmakers present in Competition are coming here for the very first time. Let's add on John Cameron Mitchell who is presenting Out of Competition a highly audacious film. Consequently, Sofia Coppola, whose young career has already been hailed by one and all, seems to be part of the landscape for a fair number of years now!

- From the point of view of the themes and subjects dealt with, what might we say about this selection?

New ways of looking launched by a young generation: love stories, genre films, the emergence of Europe, and, of course, great filmmakers represent as many film proposals as films in Competition this year. More than ever, the cinema has become the mirror of the world and its extrapolation. The 2006 selection of the Festival de Cannes thus takes up a dual challenge: depict the consequences of political and social movements in the world, (with the emergence of a new European cinema, in particular that of the countries of the former Eastern bloc); and project the great questions as to the very future of our planet.

- Do shared themes span this 2006 edition?

Yes, first History and replacing it political perspective. Rachid Bouchareb films the past to understand the present by making Indigènes about French colonisation. Polish director Slawomir Fabicki (Zodzysku) and the Rumanian filmmaker Catalin Mitulescu (The Way I Spent the End of the World) come with their debut films straight out of an Eastern Europe cinematically the creator of its very social ills. Social issues, along with History, are what once more inspired British director Ken Loach with the Irish of The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Sofia Coppola, meanwhile, endeavours in an audacious manner to conjugate history with the intimate evocation of a young queen whose life still yet today gives rise to astonishing resonances.

Art is always political, the question no longer even arises. Nanni Moretti's The Caiman about Italy, Berlusconi and the cinema, Fast Food Nation by Richard Linklater about the ties between "junk food" and the political exploitation of clandestine emigrants at the Mexican-American border. And last but not least Bruno Dumont's Flanders, an astonishing version of the ordinary man faced with a war which might be Irakian, is an evocation of modern barbarism.

Another current trend, a certain return to the genre to evoke the future of our societies, and for the Festival the occasion to open its doors to a young generation of activist filmmakers, such as: Southland Tales by Richard Kelly, an audacious musical, poetic and political futuristic film about the United States of tomorrow - and therefore of today; The Labyrinth by Pan de Guillermo Del Toro, a dreamlike, fantastic Mexican film about the civil war as seen by a little girl, the very free and modern Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola; and finally Babel by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu who blends in a complex script several stories about the state of the world.

Last but not least, the destinies of everyday characters and beautiful love stories enhance these two trends: Pedro Almodovar with Volver evokes a matriarchal society haunted by vengeance; Xavier Giannoli explores the world of popular balls with When I Was a Singer, (illuminated by Gérard Depardieu's immense presence); Aki Kaurismäki with Vartijia (Lights of the Suburb) shoots once more at man's level, as does the Italian Paolo Sorrentino who with L'Amico di famiglia (The Friend of the Family) films all those we never look at. In her own way, Nicole Garcia with Selon Charlie (According to Charlie), follows suit. Finally, the impossibility of the couple will be the eternal and universal theme once more revisited in the magnificent distractions of the lovers of Summer Love by Chinese director Lou Ye, and the sun dance of the heroes of Climates by Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

- What is Un Certain Regard like?

Un Certain Regard 2006 is made up of 22 films (among which 7 debut works) from 20 different countries. It is a selection whose level echoes the quality of the filmmakers and represented countries. For several years now, Un Certain Regard has become so demanding that it is now a true alternative selection to the Competition itself. For young filmmakers, it means a first entrance into the Official Selection.

It is, moreover, in Un Certain Regard that we find the greatest number of first films. For seasoned filmmakers, it is the occasion to return to present their works under conditions totally different from those of the Competition. Thus, Marco Bellochio or Rolf de Heer, regulars of the Red Steps, come to present films which will surprise more than one by their artistic originality and freedom.

- In conclusion, can we say a word about the films presented Out of Competition at the Buñuel Theatre? It seems that this programme has grown stronger with every passing year...

It has indeed grown, but once again without exceeding the number of films presented last year, even when the Festival has one more day. The Buñuel Theatre presents a programme of particular films, both documentaries and fictions. Just a glance at these films, reveals once more filmmakers and subjects that represent a good deal of the trends of contemporary creation.

- What stars are expected on the Croisette?

First, the actors of the opening film: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Jean-Pierre Marielle. Then, by film, Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Cillian Murphy, Liam Cunningham, Kirsten Dunst, Judy Davis, Asia Argento, Marianne Faithfull, Steve Coogan, Michele Placido, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal, Sami Bouajila, Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Roschdy Zem, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, The Rock, Sean William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sergi López, Cécile De France, Gérard Depardieu, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Vincent Lindon, Benoît Magimel, Benoît Poelvoorde, Fanny Ardant, Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Ben Gazzara, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ludivine Sagnier, Gena Rowlands, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Kris Kristofferson, Nanni Moretti, Silvio Orlando, as well as the actors present on the Jury: Tim Roth, Samuel L. Jackson, Helena Bonham-Carter, Zhang Ziyi and Monica Belluci.

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