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Cannes 2009: Tarantino and Loach up for Palme d'Or

Inglourious Basterds

Story by Jack Foley

QUENTIN Tarantino, Ken Loach, Ang Lee, Pedro Almodovar and Jane Campion all have films in competition for the prestigious Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (2009).

The list of competitors was unveiled on Thursday, April 23, 2009, three weeks ahead of the world’s premiere film festival takes place between May 13 and 24.

As previously predicted, Tarantino will be at the event with his World War II epic Inglourious Basterds, starring Brad Pitt, and looking to repeat his Palme d’Or success of 1994, when he walked away with the top prize for Pulp Fiction.

But he faces tough competition from his fellow filmmakers, with veteran British director Loach returning to Palme D’Or contention for the ninth time in his career with Looking for Eric, starring French footballer Eric Cantona.

The 73-year-old has previously won the prize for historical Irish drama The Wind That Shook the Barley in 2006.

Looking for Eric follows the fortunes of an obsessive football fan who receives spiritual advice from volatile former Manchester United star, Cantona, who plays himself.

It’s a film that represents a stark contrast to Tarantino’s Basterds, which follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers sent to Germany to kill Nazis.

Other competitors

Joining the British challenge is director Andrea Arnold, whose second feature Fish Tank is also in the running for the festival’s top prize.

The film follows 15-year-old Mia, whose life is turned on its head when her mum brings home a new boyfriend.

Arnold reportedly casts the same unflinching, unprejudiced gaze and touches on the themes of her Oscar-winning short Wasp to create an original and unsettling tale for our age. She has also won widespread acclaim for her debut feature, Red Road.

Ang Lee, who was previously shortlisted for his 1997 film The Ice Storm, will return to the Croisette with Taking Woodstock, a comedy about the iconic 1969 rock festival.

While Spanish director Almodovar will present Broken Embraces, a thriller that reunites him with his muse, and recent Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz.

New Zealand’s Jane Campion has been shortlisted for her latest work Bright Star, about the 19th Century Romantic poet John Keats, starring Ben Whishaw as Keats and Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne, the object of his affections.

Denmark’s Lars von Trier, Hong Kong’s Johnnie To, Austria’s Michael Haneke and Argentinian-born Gaspar Noe are also in contention with their latest releases.

The 62nd Cannes Film Festival boasts French actress Isabelle Huppert as head of the jury and will launch with a screening of Pixar’s latest animated adventure, Up.

Further highlights include a screening of Terry Gilliam’s fantasy The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which is being shown out of competition. The film is notorious for having been the picture the late Heath Ledger was working on at the time of his death.

Find out more about Pixar’s Up or view Cannes 2009 at a glance