- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

PARIS — Movies from North America and Britain are to dominate this year's star-sprinkled Cannes Film Festival, with nearly one film in three in the event's main competition coming from those markets, organizers said.

The festival, the movie world's pre-eminent showcase and deal-making arena, is to take place May 15-26 with many celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Ralph Fiennes and Sandra Bullock, among others expected to turn up to give the French Riviera its annual shower of glamour and excess.

The festival's organizers unveiled the surprise preponderance of English-language features vying for the prestigious Palme d'Or prize at a news media conference held in a movie theatre on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Out of the list of 22 films, three come from the United States: "Punchdrunk Knuckle Love" by Paul Thomas Anderson, "About Schmidt" by Alexander Payne and starring Jack Nicholson and "Bowling for Columbine" by Michael Moore.

One David Cronenberg's "Spider" comes from Canada.

Another three come from Britain: "All or Nothing" by Mike Leigh, "24 Hour Party People" by Michael Winterbottom and "Sweet Sixteen" by Ken Loach. That contrasted sharply with last year, when not a single British film was represented.

The only country that is better represented than the United States or Britain is host nation France, which has four films in competition, or five if you count French-born director Roman Polanski's "The Pianist."

The Anglo-Saxon flavor to this year's festival is reinforced by the opening film Woody Allen's "Hollywood Ending," which is being screened out of competition and the jury, which is presided over by American director David Lynch (who won the best director prize at Cannes last year for "Mulholland Drive") and which includes American star Sharon Stone on the panel.

Presenting the list, festival artistic delegate Thierry Fremaux said "we looked at 2,281 films this year" while making the official selection, and the 939 feature-length movies came from all around the world.

Many were presented at the last minute, he said, but the team did its best to "give a chance to films from countries that have generally been less present." Films from Israeli, Palestinian, Brazilian, Thai, Algerian and Tajik directors have all found slots, either in or out of competition.

But behind the headlines and camera lights directed at Cannes, there is also the Market the overwhelmingly busy forum in which nearly 7,000 producers, distributors, agents, writers and publicists wheel and deal over films that have wrapped or that are searching to be made.

In all, around 700 movies will be shown in a swirl of activity away from the competitive core of the Cannes festival, many of them trying to get the attention of the 4,000 journalists who have flown in to cover the event.

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