- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2007

DEAUVILLE, France — One of Hollywood‘s most versatile actors, Michael Douglas, takes center stage at the Deauville Film Festival, which also will bring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to the French beach resort.

The 33rd annual festival of American cinema, which opens today, will pay tribute to Mr. Douglas — whose latest film, “King of California” by director Mike Cahill, will kick off the 10-day event.

Mr. Douglas plays a dysfunctional father who returns home after spending two years in a mental institution to enlist his daughter in a search for gold left behind by Spanish missionaries.

During his nearly 40-year career in film as an actor and producer, Mr. Douglas’ most memorable performances have included his portrayals of Gordon Gekko, the greedy trader in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street,” and an unemployed defense worker in Joel Schumacher’s “Falling Down.”

A selection of his films will be screened as part of the tribute.

The festival also will honor director Sidney Lumet, actress Sigourney Weaver (who shot to fame in Ridley Scott’s “Alien”) and Ida Lupino, one of the first actresses to direct movies.

Mr. Lumet’s latest movie, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” will have its world premiere at the festival, as will Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, “Gone, Baby, Gone.”

More than 120 films will be screened during the festival, half of which are part of a new American Nights program of classics that will be shown around the clock, including Westerns, comedies, gangster moves and erotic films.

Among the Hollywood productions: the thrillers “The Bourne Ultimatum,” starring Matt Damon; “Michael Clayton,” with Mr. Clooney; and the Western drama “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” starring Mr. Pitt as the legendary outlaw Jesse James.

Festival-goers also will see Paul Haggis’ “In The Valley of Elah,” which touches on the Iraq war; “Shoot ‘Em Up,” starring Monica Bellucci; and “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” by Jonathan Levine.

Eleven independent productions are competing this year for the Grand Prize, which last year was awarded to “Little Miss Sunshine” by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

In the running are “Broken English” by director Zoe Cassavetes, “Factory Girl” by George Hickenlooper, “The Dead Girl” by Karen Moncrieff, “Waitress” by Adrienne Shelly and “For Your Consideration” by Christopher Guest.

“Grace Is Gone” by John C. Strouse, the tale of a man whose wife dies in the Iraq war, also is up for the Grand Prize, along with “Ira and Abby” by Robert Cary; “Live!” by Bill Guttentag; “Never Forever” by Gina Kim; “Rocket Science” by Jeffrey Blitz; and “Teeth,” by Mitchell Lichtenstein.

French director and screenwriter Andre Techine, who heads the jury, will announce the Grand Prize and the Jury Prize on Sept. 9. Four other prizes also will be handed out.

Eight documentary films, including Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” about the American health care system, Ken Burn’s “The War” and “Cocaine Cowboys” by Billy Corben also will be screened as part of the Uncle Sam’s Docs section.

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