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Eastwood’s ‘Changeling’ leads Cannes crop

American directors Clint Eastwood and Steven Soderbergh are to headline the streamlined competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which features fewer big-name directors and more emerging voices from across the globe.
/ Source: The Associated Press

American directors Clint Eastwood and Steven Soderbergh will headline the streamlined competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which features fewer big-name directors and more emerging voices from across the globe.

Eastwood will show “Changeling,” a mystery set in 1920s Los Angeles and starring Angelina Jolie as the mother of a kidnapped child. Soderbergh, the director of the lighthearted series that began with “Ocean’s Eleven,” gets serious with his four-hour-long marathon, “Che,” about Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Guevara, organizers said Wednesday.

Organizers said they would announce the movies that will open and close the festival, which runs May 14-25, at a later date.

Harrison Ford dons his khakis for the latest installment of Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones series. “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” also stars Australian actress Cate Blanchett, and will be screened out of competition.

Festival head Thierry Fremaux said he was thrilled Spielberg had chosen to premiere the movie at Cannes.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “A big portion of festival-goers and journalists grew up with Steven Spielberg’s first movies.”

Woody Allen’s Spanish-set “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” will play in the same category, as will Serbian director Emir Kusturica’s “Maradona,” a documentary about Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona. Kusturica has won the Palme d’Or, Cannes’ top prize, twice, in 1985 and 1995.

Organizers said the 61st edition of the French Riviera festival will mark a shift in the spirit of the event, known for its mix of Hollywood blockbusters and small art-house films.

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They said they’d pared down the offerings in the main competition from 22 last year to 20 this year and nixed some of the sideline events to put the spotlight back on cinema.

This year, smaller productions by lesser-known directors appear to have the upper hand over blockbusters. Organizers explained that many of the festival’s favorite star directors — like Britain’s Stephen Frears (“The Queen”) and Spain’s Pedro Almodovar (“Volver”) — are presently working on new movies.

The main competition lineup includes movies by art-house directors from Belgium, Turkey, China, France, Argentina, Brazil and Italy. Eight of the directors have never before appeared in Cannes’ main competition.

Brazilian director Walter Salles (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) is showing “Linha de Passe,” the story of brothers trying to scrape their way out of poverty. Argentina’s Lucrecia Martel makes her debut at Cannes with “La Mujer Sin Cabeza (The Woman Without a Head),” which explores the psychology of a woman after she hits and kills a dog with her car.

Award-winning Chinese director Jia Zhangke, whose “Still Life” took the top prize at the 2006 Venice Film Festival, continues to explore how economic expansion affects China’s legions of poor. “24 City” is about the relocation of an aircraft factory and its workers in the southwestern Chinese city Chengdu.

American screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (“Adaptation”) makes his directorial debut with “Synechdoche, New York,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Germany’s Wim Wenders, who won the Palme d’Or for his melancholic 1984 movie, “Paris, Texas,” will screen “The Palermo Shooting,” a drama with a multilingual, multinational cast.

Palme d’Or laureates Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who took top honors at the 1999 and 2005 festivals, are back with “Le Silence de Lorna (Lorna’s Silence).” Known for their harrowing portraits of those on the margins of society, the Belgian brothers tell the story of the marriage between a drug addict and an illegal immigrant.

In a festival first, an animated documentary has been selected for the main competition. Israeli writer-director Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir” grapples with the 1982 massacre of Palestinians by Christian militia members in Lebanon.

Sean Penn, the American actor-director, leads the jury, which also includes Natalie Portman. The Palme d’Or and other awards will be announced May 25.

Though festival regular Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction”) isn’t presenting a new movie, the 1994 Palme d’Or laureate will give a master class on moviemaking to students and film buffs.