- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CANNES, FRANCE (AP) - Bernardo Bertolucci is a high-art convert to 3D _ and a big “Avatar” fan.

The Italian director of art house classics such as “The Conformist” and “The Dreamers,” said Wednesday that his next film, “Io e Te” (“Me And You”) will use 3D technology _ despite having just two characters and a single setting in a cellar.

“I loved ‘Avatar’ and I was fascinated by the 3D,” Bertolucci told reporters at the Cannes Film Festival, where he is receiving an honorary award. “I started to think, why is 3D considered good only for horror or science fiction or these kinds of movies? I thought, if ‘8 1/2’ by Fellini was in 3D, wouldn’t it be great?”

Two other highbrow directors have also recently ventured into 3D _ Wim Wenders with dance film “Pina” and Werner Herzog with “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams.”

Bertolucci, 71, said it was striking that “three European directors coming from the same school of thought are all interested in and attracted by 3D.”

Since his debut in the early 1960s, Bertolucci’s visually lush films have explored 1930s European fascism, in “The Conformist”; explicit sexuality in “Last Tango in Paris”; and life inside Beijing’s Forbidden City in “The Last Emperor.”

He said the potential of his 3D project had helped spur him to direct again, despite health problems that haveleft him using a wheelchair.

“In the last five or six years, I was sure I wouldn’t have done any more movies,” he said. “My condition, which everybody can see, made me think, ‘It’s the end.’”

“Then I started to realize that even from a wheelchair I could imagine my films.”

Bertolucci has brought four films to Cannes without every winning the top trophy, the Palme d’Or. He said he was happy to be getting the “consolation prize” of an honorary Palme.

The award, for a major director who has never won Cannes’ main competition prize, has previously gone to Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood.

Bertolucci will get his award during Wednesday’s opening ceremony from this year’s jury president, Robert De Niro.

Bertolucci, who directed De Niro in “1900,” said he wasn’t expecting a big speech.

“Bob is a very a laconic character,” he said. “He doesn’t talk much.”

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