Fri, May 19, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai (王家衛) says he does not believe Asian films have been snubbed at this year's Cannes Film Festival, though only one is competing for the top prize.

Wong (2046, In the Mood for Love), who heads the jury this year at the festival, said Wednesday that Asian film is still going strong.

``Last year in Cannes we had a lot of Asian films but no films from England,'' he said. ``This year they have two films from England but only one film from Asia. I think it's like a cycle. It shouldn't be considered as an indication of what will be the trend.''

The only Asian film competing in the main competition is Summer Palace from China, a love story set amid the political unrest of 1989. It has been dogged by reports that it might not be able to compete for fears it would not clear China's censors in time, but a festival spokeswoman said an initial press screening went ahead as scheduled.

Wearing a black leather jacket and his trademark sunglasses, Wong joked that the only rules he had set for the jury were that they could wear shades and smoke during meetings.

Shooting for Wong's next movie, My Blueberry Night, starring jazz singer Nora Jones, is to begin this summer. Wong told Le Monde newspaper that the US-produced film tells ``the story of a woman who takes the long route instead of the short one to meet up with the man she loves.''

For actresses Monica Bellucci and Helena Bonham Carter, their attachment to the festival went beyond their judging roles.

Both have their other halves participating elsewhere: Bellucci's husband, French actor Vincent Cassel, is the master of ceremonies for the opening and closing nights, while Bonham Carter's fiance, US director Tim Burton, heads the jury for the sideline Cine-foundation competition.

"Neither of us are particularly comfortable with judging, because we've been judged ourselves," Bonham Carter said, adding quickly that Burton saw his judging position as "a freebie" to enjoy the Riviera fest.

China's environmental authority has ordered the makers of fantasy epic The Promise be penalized over damage to a pristine scenic area in the country's southwest.

Makers of the film by famed director Chen Kaige (陳凱歌) never applied to environmental agencies for permission to film at Yunnan province's Bigu pond, the State Environmental Protection Administration said.

``The filming activities caused significant damage to the local natural ecology,'' the administration said in a notice viewed Wednesday on its Web site. Bigu pond is located within the Three Parallel Rivers protected area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The statement, dated Tuesday, didn't specify how the producers would be penalized, but ordered that they fully restore the damaged area and submit a public report.

Universal Studios has bought the rights to an article about the 2004 massacre at a school in Beslan, Russia, near the border with Chechnya, which left more than 300 people dead, Daily Variety reported Tuesday.

"The School," an article by the New York Times' Moscow correspondent, C.J. Chivers, set to appear in next month's issue of Esquire magazine, covers the hostage-taking that led to the deaths of 331 people, including 186 children.

Chivers returned to the site a year and a half later to interview survivors of the siege, for which Chechen separatist rebels have claimed responsibility.

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