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European Films Make a Big Splash at Cannes

DW staff (jb)May 22, 2006

At this year's Cannes film festival, European cinema is dominating Hollywood and Bollywood.

All eyes at Cannes are on the film "Volver," by Spain's Pedro AlmodovarImage: AP

So far at Cannes, all eyes are on Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's new movie, "Volver," a comedy that is expected to sweep the world's largest festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or. The film, starring Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, is a look at three generations of women in Spain.

But the Spanish film faces stiff competition from the Anglo-Saxon world.

British director Ken Loach's new film, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," is expected to do well. And British newcomer Andrea Arnold and her film "Red Road" is anticipated as a surprise hit.

"America is really performing badly this year," Mark Cousins, a film expert and author told Reuters. "Asia is doing next to nothing in the competition, so it is really Europe that is shining with an old-fashioned approach to cinema."

Hollywood disappoints

Some expected Hollywood blockbusters left audiences unimpressed.

"The Da Vinci Code" opened the festival and was panned as boring and convoluted even as its success in the theaters in its first few days is proof of the public's anticipation of the movie.

Da Vinci Code
'The Da Vinci Code' didn't do so well during its world premierImage: Sony Pictures

And critics didn't give the anticipated action-packed "X-Men: The Last Stand" a warm reception. Richard Kelly's "Southland Tales," the follow up to "Donnie Darko," was called too long and unfocused. And Richard Linklater's "Fast Food Nation" only fared a bit better.

Still, Sofia Coppola's eagerly awaited "Marie Antoinette" has yet to be screened.

First Sept. 11 films screened

While American films are getting mixed reviews, some taking on the Sept. 11 attacks are causing a stir and receiving positive feedback.

Audiences in Cannes are getting glimpses of two US movies dealing with the attacks including a 20-minute tantalizing peek at Oliver Stone's controversial "World Trade Center."

The film is "the true story of two New York Port Authority policemen who are trapped in the rubble, their wives and their children and the incredible and almost improbable rescue efforts to save them," Stone told the Cannes audience Sunday.

World Trade Center
Movies about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are being well-receivedImage: AP

But the film, which goes on release in August just ahead of the fifth anniversary of the attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died, remains so sensitive that Paramount Pictures has written to theaters warning them that the trailers are now being screened.

As the clip ended in Cannes with a shot of Nicolas Cage's eyes blinking open in the dark, there was a sharp intake of breath and then applause for Stone.

Paul Greengrass' "United 93" is also to be shown here, telling the story of a fourth plane bound for Washington, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after a passenger uprising.

In March, one New York cinema stopped showing a preview for the film because of the audience's negative response to it. But families of the Flight 93 victims gave the movie a more favorable reaction when it was shown to them.