Arthouse meets glamour in Cannes festival line-up with Egypt competitor

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By Emma Charlton / AFP

David Cronenberg, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke will headline the race for Cannes gold at the Riviera festival next month, in a line-up studded with stars from Nicole Kidman to Brad Pitt, unveiled Thursday.

With a month to go until the May 16-27 event, organizers named the 54 films awarded a red-carpet slot at the world cinema showcase, 22 in the official race for the Palme d’Or and the rest in the new talent section, Un Certain Regard.

Canada’s Cronenberg was tipped for “Cosmopolis”, starring Robert Pattinson as a billionaire asset manager, while Britain’s Loach will return for the 17th time with “The Angel’s Share”, a bittersweet comedy about former offenders who try their hand at whisky-making.

Among other film giants billed to take part, Austria’s Michael Haneke — who took the 2009 Palme d’Or for “The White Ribbon” — will show “Amour” (Love), starring French actress Isabelle Huppert as the daughter of a woman hit by a stroke.

“It’s a journey through cinema and a journey around the world,” said Cannes’ general delegate Thierry Fremaux, who picks the films to be put before the festival’s jury, headed this year by Italian Palme d’Or winner Nanni Moretti.

Fremaux told the press conference he picked his selection from among 1,779 submissions, often favoring smaller directors, but with A-listers in top roles.

Yousry Nasrallah becomes the first Egyptian filmmaker to be included in the Main Competition since Youssef Chahine’s “Destiny” in 1997 with “After the Battle,” an examination of the aftermath of the Jan.25 Revolution starring Menna Shalaby and Bassem Samra.

Australia looms large with Kidman starring in the 1960s-set “The Paperboy” by US director Lee Daniels, as well as in Philip Kaufman’s “Hemingway and Gellhorn,” shown out of competition, where she plays the writer’s war reporter third wife.

Pitt is also teaming up with an Australian director, Andrew Dominik, in the gangster flick “Killing Them Softly,” while Jessica Chastain, co-star of last year’s Palme d’Or winner “The Tree of Life,” returns in “Lawless,” a film about bootlegging by Australia’s John Hillcoat.

Star-wise, Pattinson will be reunited on the Riviera with his on-screen lover from the “Twilight” films, Kristen Stewart, who stars in “On the Road” by the Brazilian Walter Salles, adapted from the Jack Kerouac novel.

And Marion Cotillard will add to the glamour in “Of Rust and Bone” by Jacques Audiard, one of three French directors in the main competition along with New Wave veteran Alain Resnais, 89, and the edgy Leos Carax with “Holy Motors.”

In a quirky twist, Cronenberg father and son will both be in Cannes, with Brandon Cronenberg showing his first film “Antiviral” in the new talent section chaired by British actor and director Tim Roth.

Fremaux said this year stood out for the large number of US productions — not all of them directed by Americans — that “bridge the chasm between the small, independent directors and the big studios”.

US actor Jeff Nichols — noted for the apocalyptic drama “Take Shelter” — will compete with his new film “Mud”, about two teenage boys and a fugitive.

And Wes Anderson’s 1960s teen love story “Moonrise Kingdom,” already announced as the Cannes opening film, will run in the official competition.

Jury head Moretti has said he would be “looking for films that are still able to surprise me.”

Surprises in the Palme d’Or line-up include the presence of two South Koreans: Im Sangsoo with erotic thriller “Taste of Money,” and Hong Sangsoo with “In Another Country” starring France’s Huppert.

Veteran Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who won a Palme d’Or for “Taste of Cherry” in 1997, returns at 71 with “Like Someone in Love,” a Japan-set story about a student who works as a prostitute.

A fellow Palme d’Or winner, the Romanian Cristian Mungui who scooped it in 2007 for a harrowing Communist-era abortion drama, returns to the spotlight with “Beyond the Hills” about the friendship between two orphans.

And the Italian director behind mafia drama “Gomorrah,” Matteo Garrone, will take on modern-day TV culture with “Reality.”

Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas, winner of the 2007 Jury Prize for “Silent Light,” returns with “Post Tenebras Lux.”

Berenice Bejo, co-star of the hit French silent movie “The Artist,” will be hosting the Cannes opening and closing ceremonies.

The festival will close with a screening of Claude Miller’s “Therese Desqueyroux”, a tribute to the French filmmaker who had barely finished editing the movie when he died this month aged 70.

The president of the Cannes Film Festival Gilles Jacob (R) and the general delegate of the Cannes Festival, Thierry Fremaux, give a press conference during the presentation of the films competing in the next 2012 Cannes Film Festival on April 19 in Paris. AFP Photo / Franck Fife

This handout picture released by the Cannes film festival shows the official poster of the 65th International Cannes film, made of a photo of Marilyn Monroe taken from her movie “Some Like It Hot.” AFP Photo / Festival De Cannes / Otto L. Bettmann / Bronx

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