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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Cannes supports Penn's Pledge
Sean Penn leaving The Pledge's Tuesday screening
Penn: Hoping The Pledge will do well in Europe
Sean Penn and Jack Nicholson's latest film The Pledge received rapturous applause at Cannes on Tuesday - despite a disappointing showing at US box offices.

Although it is in competition at the festival, the film has already been released in America where it took a mediocre $20m (£14m).

Directed by Penn, The Pledge is Nicholson's first role since the Oscar-winning As Good As It Gets and is the third film Penn has directed.

The Pledge
The Pledge: Took $20m (£14m) at US box office
It is in the running for the top prizes at the festival, with Nicholson tipped by some to be named best actor.

Penn described Nicholson as "one of the greatest gifts in my life, in art and in the world".

"I love Jack Nicholson," he said before the screening.

"He's the most deeply supportive artist one could hope to work with."

Nicholson plays a detective who finds it hard to retire after a child is brutally murdered.

Penn also said he is not bitter about the lukewarm response from US audiences - but hopes it will go down better in Europe.

"We hope it finds audiences who embrace it here," he said. "It's important to me."

Sean Penn and his wife arriving at the cinema
Penn and his wife Robin Wright-Penn: Both contributed to film
But the director would not be drawn when he was asked if he was a fan of films made by Guy Ritchie, the husband of his former wife Madonna.

He simply said: "A good movie is a good movie."

The Pledge also stars Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro, British actress Helen Mirren and Penn's wife Robin Wright-Penn.

But crimes in Cannes are not confined to the screen.

A British director is offering a £100,000 ($143,000) reward for the return of letters from screen legend Marlon Brando.

Brando letters

They were stolen while Tony Kaye, who made his name directing TV commercials, was asleep in his villa in the French town.

Kaye's spokesman said the director was woken by two men who refused to leave.

"Eventually, he was forced to brandish a kitchen knife in order to chase them away. It was very frightening," he said.

Kaye met Brando after the Godfather star advised him after a dispute with a Hollywood studio.

'Desperate'

A camera bag containing cash and film notes was also taken.

"He is not bothered about the money but it is desperate to have the letters from Brando returned," the spokesman said.

Other events at the 12-day festival - which ends on 20 May - were described by the BBC's Rebecca Jones as "absurd, preposterous, mad".

After scenes of pigeon-eating actors being thrown off a beach, porn stars were ejected from a hotel's private beach for causing chaos.

Porn actresses being escorted from the Noga Hilton hotel
Porn actresses being escorted from the Hilton
Scantily-clad actresses had planned to use the Noga Hilton to promote some of their latest productions.

But the hotel manager Jacky Benayoun told them it was "not a brothel here" before turning performers and journalists onto the street.

A hotel spokesman said they had not been told about the nature of the event.

Meanwhile competition for the Palme d'Or itself - and other related awards - continues to hot up, with director David Lynch's new film Mulholland Drive to be shown on Wednesday.

Director Mauro Bolognini, who has died, with Ursula Andress
Director Mauro Bolognini with Ursula Andress
The new feature from Lynch, who won a Palme d'Or for Wild at Heart in 1990, has been described as a "fragmented dream-like movie that, once unravelled, packs one hell of a wallop".

Lynch is best known for Twin Peaks, Dune and Blue Velvet.

And Cannes film-lovers are currently mourning the death of Italian director Mauro Bolognini, whose work was twice nominated for the Palme d'Or in the 1970s.

He died on Monday at the age of 78 after a long illness.

L'Eredità Ferramonti was in competition at the festival in 1976, with Metello entered in 1970.

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The BBC's Rebecca Jones
"Cannes 2001 is about the increasingly bizarre"

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Films in focus

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