Fri, May 12, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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The The Da Vinci Code will open the world's most keenly-awaited movie event of the year, the Cannes Film Festival, next week and will hit theaters in Taiwan on Thursday.

US director Ron Howard's US$125 million screen version of Dan Brown's controversial bestseller will ensure the annual orgy of glitz and glamour in the French Riviera resort gets off to an even more frenzied start than usual.

Stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou and the rest of the cast are to arrive in Cannes by train from London for Wednesday's opening, evoking more gentile, bygone days when tourists used to chug down from Paris on the Blue Train.

A glittering bevy of other A-list stars such as Bruce Willis, Halle Berry, Penelope Cruz, Samuel Jackson and Monica Bellucci will be jetting into the once-small fishing village now turned millionaires' playground.

The screening of the third installment in the X-Men trilogy -- X-Men: The Last Stand -- will also keep movie fans glued to the red-carpet events in the resort during the May 17-28 festival.

The real competition starts on Thursday with 20 films from 13 countries officially competing for this year's coveted Palme d'Or to be awarded by a nine-strong jury headed by the Chinese director Wong Kar-wai (王家衛).

Artistic director Thierry Fremaux said this year's competition could be seen as a "renewal" while remaining faithful to the festival's main aims of "highlighting auteur cinema, (and) the search for singular voices in different cultures."

But the 2006 Cannes Film Festival will also showcase some of the movie world's fastest-rising talents, such as Lost in Translation US director Sofia Coppola competing with her new film Marie Antoinette and China's Lou Ye with Summer Palace.

A senior Chinese official has accused the Chen Kaige (陳凱歌) epic The Promise of damaging a scenic area in southwestern China known as Shangri-La, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

Filmmakers of The Promise, while shooting the movie at Bigu pond in Yunnan province, littered the area with garbage and destroyed a large area planted with azalea flowers, Qiu Baoxing, China's vice minister for construction, said at an environmental management conference Tuesday, Xinhua reported on its Web site.

Xinhua also quoted Qiu as saying filmmakers inserted more than 100 piles in the pond.

The Promise, a US$35 million film that won a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign film, is known for its stunning visuals and an international cast that features actors from Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.

The movie tells the story of a young girl who becomes princess on condition that she never find true love.

Harish Saluja says it may seem odd that an Asian film festival will open this weekend in Pittsburgh, a shrinking, financially struggling city with an aging, overwhelmingly white population. But to Saluja, it makes perfect sense.

If Pittsburgh wants to continue attracting young, highly educated Asians who have been coming here for high-tech and university jobs, he said, it's going to have to show them it's more diverse now and not the smoky industrialized city of old.

Today, Saluja and a host of volunteers will kick off the nine-day Silk Screen Festival, featuring 22 independent films representing nations east of the Bosporus, including India, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Iran.

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