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Tuesday, 15 May, 2001, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
US directors laud Cannes audiences
Robin Wright Penn and Sean Penn
Robin Wright Penn and Sean Penn at Cannes
Actor and director Sean Penn has said he brought his latest film The Pledge starring Jack Nicholson to Cannes to find an audience more sympathetic than in the US.

International critics praised The Pledge when it opened in the US in January, but its box-office takings were mediocre, despite an acclaimed performance by Nicholson.

Penn said he was not surprised that the reaction to his film was warmer in Cannes, where the film screened in competition on Tuesday.

Jack Nicholson
The Pledge is Nicholson's first film since his Oscar win for As Good As It Gets
"It has been my experience, in the past, that the things I find interesting arouse more interest outside my own country," said the star of Dead Man Walking and Carlito's Way.

"Do I get on a boat with a big sign saying 'Save my movie' when I come to Europe? No. But clearly, we hope to find an audience here that embraces this movie."

Penn is a regular at Cannes, where he won a best actor award for his role in John Cassavates' She's So Lovely in 1997.

Nicholson is being tipped by some critics as a possible for the best actor award at the festival for his role as an obsessive ex-detective who tries to solve a series of child murders.

Joel and Ethan Coen
Joel (l) and Ethan Coen take a photocall in Cannes
Meanwhile Fargo and O Brother Where Art Thou directors Ethan and Joel Coen were musing on similar sentiments at the festival.

The Coens have been very successful at Cannes - they have been included in competition for six of their nine movies.

Actress Frances McDormand who is married to Joel Coen and won an Oscar for her role in Fargo said that she felt European audiences understood Coen films "better".

"It's about education - European audiences are more educated in film," she said.

The Coens, who won a Palme d'Or for Barton Fink in 1991 and a directing prize for Fargo in 1996 are in competition this year for The Man Who Wasn't There.

David Lynch
Cult film director David Lynch
Another US director who is the toast of Cannes is David Lynch - the auteur of Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks.

Lynch won a Palme d'Or at Cannes with Wild at Heart in 1990 and is back this year with Mulholland Drive, a film about an accident on the famous road in the Hollywood hills.

Lynch too, feels at home in Cannes.

"Very generally, Europeans appreciate abstractions more," he said.

But like many of the tanned directors strolling La Croisette he thinks it best not to over-analyse.

"I just like being here, with all this film around."


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