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Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK


Judgement starts at Cannes

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: They have 22 films to watch

The hard work has begun at the Cannes Film Festival in France - with director David Cronenberg's jury judging their first films.

The Canadian film-maker, best known for his controversial movie Crash, leads the ten-strong panel of writers, directors and actors who will be busy rating the 22 films in competition for the Palme d'Or.

His team includes Hollywood stars Jeff Goldblum and Holly Hunter, Babe director George Miller and Swedish opera singer Barbara Hendricks.

'Casual' jury

[ image: David Cronenberg with Jeremy Irons at the opening of the festival]
David Cronenberg with Jeremy Irons at the opening of the festival
Italian director Maurizio Michetti, German director Dorris Dorrie and the French trio of Art playwright Yasmina Reza, director Andre Techine and actress Dominique Blanc complete the line-up.

Now they have to view up to three films a day to decide who wins the Palme d'Or, as well as a raft of other categories.

David Cronenberg promised he would look after his team in a "casual" manner - especially if a triple bill of films caused them an early start.

He said: "I have heard about those other presidents who wanted all the jury there at 8:30am. I don't function at 8:30am, so I won't be there.

"We will try not to be too harsh on the film that made us get up at 8:30am."

Arthouse showcase

[ image: Jeff Goldblum: Will have to watch 3 films a day]
Jeff Goldblum: Will have to watch 3 films a day
Cannes has traditionally been a showcase for the best in arthouse cinema - which is even more true this year with the lack of Hollywood blockbusters at the festival.

Tim Robbins is the best-known director in competition, with The Cradle Will Rock. British director Peter Greenaway is also in the running with Eight And A Half Women, as is Welcome To Sarajevo director Michael Winterbottom. His entry, Wonderland, is a study of life in London.

Spanish film-maker Pedro Almodovar's Todo Sobre Mi Madre (Everything About My Mother) is also included, as are films from Americans David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch, The Straight Story and Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai.

Chinese director Chen Kaige enters with The Emperor And The Assassin. Chen's Farewell My Concubine won the Palme d'Or in 1993.

First Israeli film in 25 years

[ image: The jury will have little time for sunbathing at Cannes]
The jury will have little time for sunbathing at Cannes
Lynch is being tipped as a possible winner, as is Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, who enters with Kikujiro.

The first two films the jury are seeing include Kadosh by Amos Gitai - the first Israeli film to compete at Cannes in 25 years.

Shot largely in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem, the film examines the lives of two sisters confined to their religious community, and how they try to come to terms with their lives. One rebels, while one settles into the community.

French film Pola X is the other film being viewed by the jury. It has a strong native cast including Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu's son Guillaume.

British film minister Janet Anderson is also visiting Cannes on Thursday. The lack of Hollywood stars at the festival is helping put UK names such as Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones - whose film Entrapment will be the festival's biggest premiere - in the spotlight.

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