New Emissary

Asian Cannes Contenders

Several promising Asian selections have made it into next month’s festival line-up.

One of the world’s best-known and acclaimed film festivals is just around the corner. And late last week, the line-up for the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, to open May 12, was released, to be swallowed up by eager film aficionados around the globe.

I’m neutral when it comes to the two selections that will be opening and closing the festival—Ridley Scott’s sure to be high-octane version of Robin Hood and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street 2. Cannes has not shied away in the past from Hollywood blockbusters and high-profile celebrities so this comes as no major surprise. However, The Times gave it an interesting take when they framed the sum of this year’s selections as a battle between art and money, suggesting that the two so-called ‘conflicting forces’ are stronger than they have been in the past. Nonetheless, there are without doubt many selections on the more ‘artsy’ side, and a significant auteur presence at this year’s awards.

And amongst these is one of Japan’s more revered figures in film, Takeshi Kitano, who marks his return to the gangster movies, (he was behind 1999’s Kikujiro) with his violent thriller Outrage, which he directs, produces and stars in. My hopes are high; I’ve been waiting for something spectacular from Kitano since his mind-blowing 2003 remake, Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman. That film took home the Silver Lion award at the Venice film festival, and Outrage’s presence at an international event may be a very good sign.

And it seems that Asia is again making a mark this year at Cannes. Two South Korean films have also made the cut, and Im Sang-soo’s remake of a 1960s thriller The Housemaid, about a sinister femme fatale in the form of a domestic helper, looks to be something that can satisfy the modern Psycho fan. Also showing is Poetry, from Lee Chang-dong, a weighty drama about an aging woman searching for certain meaning in life. Lee’s film is highly-anticipated, for he was able to lure veteran actress Yun Jeong-hie out of retirement to pick up the central role.

Finally, not to be forgotten, another confirmed selection is Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a film with the enticing theme of reincarnation, as a dying man recalls his numerous past lives from his deathbed.