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CANNES ’07 DISPATCH | Scorsese Foundation Aimed at Preservation, Distribution; New Line’s “Compass”;

CANNES '07 DISPATCH | Scorsese Foundation Aimed at Preservation, Distribution; New Line's "Compass";

Martin Scorsese, joined by group of leading international filmmakers on Tuesday in Cannes, officially announced the creation of The World Cinema Foundation. The not-for-profit organization is dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and ultimately, distribution of neglected films from around the world. Created by Scorsese, who has also launched a similar movement for American films, the foundation “supports and encourages efforts to save worldwide film patrimony and ensure that these films are preserved, shared and saved.”

Alongside Scorsese at the press conference were a number of the filmmakers serving as the Foundation’s board of advisors, including Fatih Akin, Souleymane Cisse, Stephen Frears, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Ermanno Olmi, Walter Salles, Abderrahmane Sissako, and Wong Kar Wai.

The foundation will aim to earmark ignored or orphaned films from around the world. Scorsese explained that one of the reasons he sought to launch the foundation is its ability to tackle cultural and political divides. The filmmakers also emphasized the importance of developing a network of cinematheques around the world that would screen the preserved films before they are released on DVD.

Recalling the impact of seeing foreign films as a child, he noted, “this opened up a whole world to me, foreign films on television introduced me to so many cultures.”

“Familiarity of other cultures through cinema can hopefully bring about a level of political understanding,” Scorsese said at the Cannes press conference, “First come the films and than you want to know more about the people who made the picture.”

Agreeing with Scorsese, filmmaker Walter Salles added, “Cineam is a fabulous instrument to make us understand our own differences but also our own mutual connecting points.”

Funded through support from Giorgio Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways and the Qatar Museums Authority, the World Cinema Foundation is backing three films screening here in Cannes, including Ahmed El Maanouni‘s “Transes” from Brazil, Mario Peixoto‘s “Limit” from Brazil, and Liviu Ciulei‘s “Forest of the Hanged” from Romania. [Eugene Hernandez and Peter Knegt]

At “The Golden Compass” preview at Cannes, actors Dakota Blue Richards, Eva Green and Daniel Craig. Photo courtesy of New Line.

New Line Launches “Compass” At Cannes

New Line treated journalists and industry folk to ten minutes of promotional footage from Chris Weitz‘s “The Golden Compass,” the $150 million adaptation of Phillip Pullman‘s first part of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Weitz (who previously helmed “American Pie” and “About a Boy” with brother Paul) nervously introduced the clips. Though its difficult to draw any conclusions from what is essentially an extended trailer, the footage looked very promising: Gorgeous sets and eye-popping CGI, as well as an icy Nicole Kidman stealing frames as the film’s villain.

The screening was followed by a press conference. Attendees included Weitz and actors Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Sam Elliot and Dakota Blue Richards (Kidman expressed apologies but was off shooting “Australia”). Richards, who plays the film’s protagonist Lyra, answered questions under the seemingly paternal gazes of Craig and Weitz. On her post-“Compass” life, she suggested: “There are now two different worlds. I just focus on going to school and being me.”

Weitz dodged questions about the book’s overt anti-religious themes. “Let me try and give a fair answer,” he said. “Pullman is against any organized dogma. Although we deal with some of these questions obliquely in this movie, Pullman’s ideas are very much alive.” Weitz insists that he “didn’t have an agenda” except to “tell as good a story as possible.”

Journalists also poked fun at Craig and Green following up “Casino Royale” with another film together, asking how they deal with the constant working relationship (Craig also stars with fellow “Compass” star Kidman in this summer’s “The Invasion“). “We got married,” joked Green.

Green also gladly answered journalists questions in French, and explained that her role as a witch “was like a normal role,” apart “from the fact that I was extended on wires and flying all the time.”

The most popular topic of questioning regarded the onslaught of special effects driven epics. “People should be tired of putting special effects in place of story,” said Weitz. “People who read the books for their intellectual and philosophical [elements] will not be disappointed.”

“The Golden Compass” will be released in North American this December. Producer Deborah Forte said she thinks they “will definitely” make the two films that follow in Pullman’s trilogy. [Peter Knegt]

PAVILION PROFILE: Bosnia-Herzegovina, A Country Promoted through its Film Industry

Though they have no films in competition or screenings at the market this year, Bosnia-Herzegovina nonetheless has their agenda full and laid out before them. With the fourth year of their presence in Cannes and a third year at their location in the International Village, the Bosnia Pavilion has come to the festival with a number of finished films, accompanied by about forty filmmakers, all of which are available on DVD upon request or during a screening at the pavilion.

The annual Bosnian cocktail night has been expanded to a large evening event at the Century Club, and organizers are confident they will be able to attract attendees to this year’s event despite the ever-present competition from other parties. During the dinner they will announce the new curator for The Katrin Cartlidge Foundation, named after the late British actress who starred in Bosnian director Danis Tanovic‘s Oscar-winning “No Man’s Land.” The foundation “works to encourage young artists on their creative paths” by supporting the work of one selected artist with a one-year scholarship.

The Bosnian-Herzegovina Pavilion, like most, is a center for networking and deal making for its members and others attending the Cannes Film Festival and Market. The primary goal for this year’s Bosnian-Herzegovina Pavilion is to increase awareness for their 13 features, 11 documentaries, and 11 shorts in their latest catalogue, all of which have been made in the past year.

The Pavilion has identified three goals for its presence here in Cannes. First and foremost of course, is promotion of the Bosnia-Herzegovina film industry, which includes use of the tent as a base for the work of the Bosnian Association of Filmmakers, a group they consider an integral part of the country’s ability to maintain its footprint at the Cannes market. Outreach in the form of a daily wine happy hour from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m also augments the serious work of the country’s film biz.

Also on their agenda, the Bosnian Pavilion plans to utilize the seemingly limitless attention given to Cannes as a means to build awareness about the Sarajevo Film Festival, which takes place this year August 17 – 25 in addition to the event’s new “Talent Campus” program designed to nurture young filmmakers. With Sarajevo in mind, the country is also searching for films to invite to join this year’s slate.

The final objective of Bosnia’s presence in Cannes is to generally promote the country itself. Bosnia-Herzegovina is taking great lengths to integrate its promotion closely to its expanding film industry. Having begun a new campaign, “Enjoy Life, Enjoy Film,” they hope to use their films in order to attract increased tourism to Bosnia-Herzegovina. [Ashley Adams]

The latest from the 2007 Festival de Cannes is available anytime in indieWIRE’s special section.

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