PARIS (Reuters) - Quentin Tarantino leads the U.S. challenge at the Cannes Film Festival this year, taking his movie “Death Proof” into the main competition where he will face heavyweight compatriots the Coen Brothers and Gus Van Sant.
Organizers unveiling the selection for the 60th edition of the world’s biggest film festival on Thursday also announced that Michael Moore, controversial winner of the Palme d‘Or prize in 2004, will be back on the southern French coast.
His documentary “Sicko”, about the U.S. health care system, is not in the main competition but Moore’s presence in Cannes, where he won the top prize in 2004 for his anti-Bush polemic “Fahrenheit 9/11”, will generate valuable publicity.
Gilles Jacob, veteran president of the festival, said the Organizers aimed to reinforce “a certain proud idea of cinema” with a program that would combine “heritage and modernity ... great names and young hopefuls”.
Tarantino, a previous Cannes winner with “Pulp Fiction”, will be hoping for a better reception than he had at the U.S. box office where “Grindhouse”, the version of the film already showing in cinemas, fared poorly.
“Death Proof” is a special adaptation of his section of “Grindhouse”, a double-bill with Robert Rodriguez.
The opening film in Cannes will be Chinese film maker Wong Kar Wai’s “My Blueberry Nights”, starring Jude Law, Ed Harris, Natalie Portman and jazz singer Norah Jones in a story about a woman travelling across America.
The choice is a shift away from last year’s choice of opening film, the critically panned but commercially successful blockbuster “The Da Vinci Code”.
Wong will be up against U.S. directors including previous Golden Palm winners Tarantino, the Coen Brothers (“No Country for Old Men”) and Van Sant (“Paranoid Park”), and Sarajevo-born Emir Kusturica (“Promise Me This”), a two-time winner.
U.S. film maker David Fincher (“Zodiac”) is in the main 22-movie lineup as is German-Turkish director Fatih Akin, whose film “Gegen die Wand” (“Head On”) was the hit of the 2004 Berlin Film Festival. He is presenting “Auf der Anderen Seite”.
There are no British entrants in the central competition, after the country’s Ken Loach won the Golden Palm last year with Irish civil war drama “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”.
Out of competition but launching in Cannes will be “Ocean’s 13”, the third in the heist series starring George Clooney, and “A Mighty Heart”, a movie based on the 2002 kidnap and murder of U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan starring Angelina Jolie.
A special 3-D concert film of Irish rock group U2 and “The War”, an epic 15-hour documentary on the U.S. experience in World War Two directed by Lynn Novick and Ken Burns, will be among the attractions during the festival.
On the jury, headed this year by British director Stephen Frears, will be Turkish Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk and Australian actress Toni Collette.
Additional reporting by Mike Collett-White in London