by: Jack Foley
HAVING been out of the limelight for a little while, Spanish
actress, Penelope Cruz, could well provide one of the talking
points of this year's Cannes Film Festival, now that it has been
announced that her latest film, Fanfan La Tulipe, is to open the
showpiece two-week event on May 14, 2003.
The picture, which co-stars Vincent Perez, is a remake of an
adventure-comedy about a fictitious 18th Century hero. Cruz plays
a gypsy girl who dupes handsome peasant, Fanfan, into joining
the French army by predicting that he will marry one of the king's
The director is Gerard Krawczyk, the maker of the French action
series, Taxi, and produced by Luc Besson (who also worked on the
Taxi series, as well as The Big
Blue and Leon).
As the first-night film of the festival, it is guaranteed a lot
of attention, with many international celebrities and the world's
presss traditionally attending en masse, and setting the scene
for the glamour that surrounds the annual event.
The film will also go on general release in France on the same
day and marks Cruz's return to French-language features after
working in Hollywood and in her native Spain. Her last French-speaking
role was as one of the famous lover's smitten victims in Jacques
Weber's 1998, Don Juan.
The story of Fanfan La Tulipe is no stranger to Cannes, however,
having already graced the festival in 1952, when a version starring
Gerard Philipe and Gina Lollobrigida won acclaim. Earlier versions
were also filmed in 1907 and 1926.
Fanfan La Tulipe will, however, be shown out of competition,
which means it will not be eligible to compete for the top prize
- the prestigious Palme d'Or (which last year went to Roman Polanski's
recent Oscar winner, The Pianist).
It is generating a fair bit of buzz, however, with many insiders
predicting another massive hit for French cinema.
Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, co-founder and chief operating officer
of EuropaCorp, said that when the first print of the film arrived
at the company's Paris office one morning, bosses screened the
film for the first time with representatives of the film festival
present and, over the course of a three-hour lunch, came to the
decision that it would open the festival.
"We are nothing else but thrilled," added Le Pogam.
"We're so proud of the film. It's delightful."
Vincent Perez, on the other hand, had this to say about his involvement
with the project: "One evening, during dinner, Luc Besson
told me that he wanted to make a new version of Fanfan la Tulipe
with me in the title role.
"I was very touched that Luc should present me with such
a beautiful gift. I was enthusiastic, excited and infinitely grateful
to Luc. The idea of playing Fanfan seemed immediately natural,
as if I had always dreamed of it."
The complete line-up for this year's Cannes Film Festival has
yet to be announced, although French movie director, Patrice Chereau
(best known for French historical drama, La Reine Margot), will
be heading this year's festival jury.
for the Penelope Cruz website...
for a Vincent Perez website...