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by Eugene Hernandez
May 28, 2006 2:24 AM
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CANNES '06 DAILY DISPATCH: Will Pedro Win? Spanish Language Filmmakers Shine At 2006 Festival de Can

In Cannes last week, Pedro Almodovar (right) with "Volver" star Penelope Cruz. Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE

On the final weekend of the Festival de Cannes in France four films from Spanish-language directors have festival-goers buzzing (and may win awards) as the event draws to a close. Since day two here on the Croisette, Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" has stirred talk of the filmmaker winning his first Palme d'Or, while later in the week Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez-Innaritu's "Babel" drew a lengthy standing ovation at its premiere screening immediately making it an awards contender. Now, on the final weekend of the festival, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro's dark fairy tale, "Pan's Labyrinth," and Uruguayan director Israel Adrian Caetano's intense true story, "Buenos Aires 1977: Cronica de Una Fuga," have both critics and audiences alike expecting one or more of these movies to take home a prize on Sunday night.

[indieWIRE will publish the complete list of winners after they are announced on Sunday night in France.]

On the final weekend of the Festival de Cannes in France four films from Spanish-language directors have festival-goers buzzing (and may win awards) as the event draws to a close. Since day two here on the Croisette, Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" has stirred talk of the filmmaker winning his first Palme d'Or, while later in the week Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez-Innaritu's "Babel" drew a lengthy standing ovation at its premiere screening immediately making it an awards contender. Now, on the final weekend of the festival, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro's dark fairy tale, "Pan's Labyrinth," and Uruguayan director Israel Adrian Caetano's intense true story, "Buenos Aires 1977: Cronica de Una Fuga," have both critics and audiences alike expecting one or more of these movies to take home a prize on Sunday night.

[indieWIRE will publish the complete list of winners after they are announced on Sunday night in France.]

Asked about the preponderance of Spanish-language cinema, at a Cannes press conference early in the festival, Pedro Almodovar said, "I think it’s a fabulous occurrence that there are these films in Spanish. I am very grateful to the Cannes Film Festival because they treat me very well." He continued, "(But) recently in Cannes, (there have not been) that many (Spanish-language films) in the last ten years, so this is a really special (year) and we can really celebrate it."

"Buenos Aires 1977"

Caetano's " Buenos Aires 1977," which screened for the press on Friday night, is a look at the real story of a group of men, including Soccer goalie Claudio Tamburrini, who are kidnapped by the rebel Junta dictatorship and tortured in Argentina at the Sere Mansion in the suburb of Moron. The film stars Rodrigo de la Serna (co-star of "The Motorcycle Diaries"), Nazareno Carero, Lautaro Delgado, Matias Marmorato, and Pablo Echarri. Held naked and shackled in a well-guarded room, the men must hatch a plan to escape if they are to survive.

Adapted from Claudio Tamburrini's book, "Pase Libre - La fuga de la Mansion Sere," the film was written by Esteban Student and Julian Loyola. "(It) focuses on how torture causes human beings to disappear," explained Caetano, in a statement about the film. "Not a physical disappearance but a psychological one. And on how the mere fact of conceiving an escape in that madhouse, the very mention of it, itself becomes madness."

The film, acquired by The Weinstein Company in a deal announced earlier this week in Cannes, is the latest feature from Caetano, who has made a number of films in Argentina, including "Pizza, Birra, y Faso" (co-directed with Bruno Stagnaro), "Bolivia" (winner of the young critics' award in the Cannes Critics' Week), and "Un Oso Rojo," which screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at Cannes in 2002.

"Pan's Labyrinth"

Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," set amidst the civil war in Spain in 1944, is rich, dark tale of a young girl who, with her mother, moves into the home of a captain in Franco's army. The girl (played by emerging talent Ivana Baquero) escapes the realities of her harsh life and enters a fantastical world where a mysterious faun explains to her that she is a princess. But, in order to realize her dreams, she must first accomplish three challenging tasks detailed by the mysterious figure (called "Pan" for the U.S. release of the film). A sort of parallel film to Del Toro's "The Devil's Backbone," this new film (acquired by Picturehouse in the U.S. earlier this year) explores fascism, which the director calls "the ultimate horror."

Guillermo del Toro, showing a copy of his sketchbook journal from the film "Pan's Labyrinth," during a conversation with journalists in Cannes on Friday. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

"Its an adult movie about being a kid," explained Del Toro, seated alongside Baquero during a conversation with a small group of journalists Friday in Cannes. This is "not your nephew's fairy tale," he quipped when asked about the clearly 'R' rated, graphic and sometimes intense content of the film. Admitting that he has been "addicted to horror movies all my life," Del Toro showed a sketchbook and journal that contains the ideas and concepts for his new film.

Among the movies in Del Toro's filmography are "Cronos," "Mimic," "Blade 2," and "Hellboy." Now that I am 41," Del Toro explained Friday, "I realize that I will never live long enough to make the movies that I want to make," but he admitted that he is now at peace with that realization. Nodding and smiling through most of the conversation, actress Baquero added about the movie," No one will ever make a movie that is similar to this one."

The Awards

The Festival de Cannes concludes Sunday night in France with awards, capping a day in which all of the competition films will be re-screened for festival attendees. And of course, many are speculating that Pedro Almodovar will win his first Palme d'Or in Cannes. Whether or not the movie takes home the top prize, it remains at the top of critics' lists as the best of the '06 fest (according to an informal survey of Cannes coverage).

When asked about the possibility that he might win the top award, during a press conference in Cannes, Almodovar responded, "When you are writing a script, there isn’t a single neuron that is free to think about future awards or prizes. You don’t think beyond the film."

"Red Road" Gets U.S. Deal

Another film that has a chance to take home an award on Sunday, according to some is Andrea Arnold's "Red Road," which has just been acquired for U.S. distribution. Trust Film Sales has sold the film to Tartan USA. British Director Arnold's debut feature stars Kate Dickie and Natalie Press in the story of a woman who works at a surveillance company and finds herself wrapped up in the lives of a few of the people who fall under her watchful eye.

Arnold, whose short film "WASP" won a 2005 Academy Award, made the movie through director Lars Von Trier's company Advanced Party Scheme, made with characters created by Lone Scherfig and Anders Thomas Jensen. "Red Road" is the first of three films that will be made under these restrictions. Though Scherfig and Jensen created the characters, Arnold wrote the screenplay and the film was produced by Carrie Comerford.

"This is an extraordinary film and we're delighted to be working with this talented director," commented Tartan USA's Jane Giles. "We look forward to seeing the next films to emerge from the Advanced Party Scheme."

In addition to "Red Road," Tartan USA has acquired two other films that are at the Cannes Film Festival: Trust Film Sales' "Princess," a Danish film that opened the Directors Fortnight film series and Films Distribution's "The Page Turner," a French thriller.

Sidney Pollock gives a Master Class at Cannes.

On Thursday, May 25, director and actor Sidney Pollack gave a two-hour master class as part of the Cannes Film Festival's "Cinema Masterclass" series. Moderated by Michel Ciment, the talk consisted mostly of Pollock's interest and techniques in acting and how he applies them to his own filmmaking.

Pollock verbally doubted his own expertise in giving advice. "The idea of me leading a masterclass is absurd," he said, though he was extremely open to sharing his own thoughts and ideas on acting, directing actors and the themes of his films. Along with his conversation with Ciment, clips of Pollock's films were screened, which led to the discussion of various aspects of filmmaking. "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?," "Tootsie," "Out of Africa," "Random Hearts" and his new documentary "Sketches of Frank Gehry" were a few of the films which were screened during the program.

In the end, however, Pollock shared his thoughts on the stories that really move him. "The stories that stuck with me were always the ones where the people didn't end up together," noted Pollock. "Those were the stories that stayed with me long after the film ended." [Kristina Woo]

[Get the complete list of Cannes winners in indieWIRE's special Cannes section, after the are announced Sunday night in France.]

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