By Indiewire | Indiewire May 12, 2004 at 2:00AM
DISPATCH FROM CANNES: Day One Dawning With Almodovar in the Spotlight
by Eugene Hernandez
A new season of international cinema will kick off today (Wednesday) with the opening of the 57th Festival de Cannes in France. Filmmakers, industry execs, and journalists from around the world arrived here in Cannes yesterday, jamming nearby Nice-Cote d'Azur airport before making their way to the already bustling Croisette to get settled in for this year's fest. At the Palais des Festivals, security was expectedly tight with attendees subjected to bag searches and individual wand scans by guards. Amidst ongoing terrorism concerns at high profile events such as Cannes, locals are also keeping an eye on arts protestors who have vowed to disrupt this year's festival to voice their frustration over government employment benefits.
As festival guests checked in on a sunny, but cool Tuesday, workers around town put the final touches on the massive billboards and displays around Cannes that are touting new Hollywood movies or promoting any of the numerous companies seeking attention from the festival's attendees. The crowds began to gather on Tuesday, but there really wasn't much for early arrivals to do, aside from getting over jet lag and hunkering down with festival schedules to try and map out a successful festival strategy. That will all change on Wednesday.
Cannes will debut tonight with a screening of Pedro Almodóvar's latest, "La Mala Educación" and a gala procession of stars and notables up the red-carpeted steps of the Palais. Earlier in the day, members of the 4,000 strong international press corps will gather (separated only by their color-coded badges) for a chance to see Almodóvar's film at one of two media screenings. The festivities will continue with a late-night party here in Cannes. Two kids attending Catholic school are at the heart of Almodóvar's latest, in a story that starts in the 1960s and continues into the '70s and '80s. But the filmmaker is quick to clarify that the film is not an autobiography, nor is it a comedy or a musical, although elements of each of those characteristic can apparently be found in the new movie. Almodóvar prefers to call the new movie a "film noir." Gael García Bernal, Fele Martinez, Javier Cámara, Daniel Giménez-Cacho, and Francisco Boira are among the cast of this new film. The director will reflect on the film in more depth during the press confrence that will follow the morning screening.
"I had to make 'Bad Education,'" says Pedro Almodóvar in notes about the film that have been published in a large-format book to promote the movie. "I had to get it out of my system before it became an obsession."
While black-tie and gown-attired guests are toasting Almodóvar at the Palais tonight, down the Croisette a few steps, locals will jam the Cinema de la Plage site once again for outdoor film screenings. On tap at 9 p.m. is Milos Forman's "Hair," preceded by mix of movie music by DJ Fred Elalouf.
This year's Cannes competition, cited for its broad mix of Hollywood movies, work from Cannes favorites, and films from new faces, includes 18 titles. Directors in competition this year include Wong Kar Wai, Olivier Assayas, Agnes Jaoui, Walter Salles, Hans Weingartner, Tony Gatlif, Michael Moore, Oshii Mamoru, Hong Sang-soo, Lucrecia Martel, Paolo Sorrentino, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Park Chan-wook, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Stephen Hopkins, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Emir Kusturica, and Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury & Conrad Vernon.
[indieWIRE's coverage, kicking off in earnest tomorrow here at indieWIRE.com, will include daily dispatches, film reviews, and iPOP photo coverage. Get the latest at: http://www.indiewire.com/cannes.]