With Robert De Niro in charge of the jury for the official selection and Woody Allen's latest Midnight in Paris awarded the coveted opening slot as well as the new Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides showing out of competition, the Cannes Film Festival has a strong American presence.

Add in the long-waited Terrence Malick opus The Tree of Life, originally talked about for last year's selection, Jodie Foster's fourth directorial outing The Beaver and Gus Van Sant opening the sidebar Un Certain Regard section with Restless featuring rising star Mia Wasikowska and Franco-American relations definitely seem to be warming up. On top of all of that a vintage portrait of Faye Dunaway graces the official poster.

Unveiling what is being perceived already as a potentially vintage year Thierry Fremaux, the festival's artistic director told the assembled media throng in the gilded surroundings of the Grand Hotel in Paris yesterday, that the world of cinema at least appeared to be emerging from global economic woes. "The market place in Cannes has more subscriptions than ever (a ten per cent increase over last year), media accreditations also are up and more than 1700 titles were offered for selection."

Other main contenders in the official selection of 19 titles (excluding the out-of-competition slots) are:

Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In. The Spanish filmmaker has never won the Palme d'Or and his last film Broken Embraces walked away empty-handed.

Nanni Moretti's Habemus Papam which stars Michel Piccoli as a newly elected Pope who is crushed by the responsibility of the role.

Paolo Sorrentino's first English-language sortie This Must Be The Place which teams the director with Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn. The two met when Penn was head of the Cannes jury and Sorrentino's Il Divo was in competition. The resulting collaboration is the story of an ageing rock star on the hunt for his father's Nazi executioner. The film shot in the US, Ireland and Italy.

From the UK much advance attention is being generated by Lynne Ramsay's We Need To Talk About Kevin, her long-awaited third feature based on the novel of the same name by Lionel Shriver. Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly star in the film, which has been generating terrific advance buzz. Ramsay previously was in Cannes with Ratcatcher.

The Dardenne Brothers (The Kid With A Bike), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon A Time In Anatolia), Aki Kaurismaki (Le Havre) and Lars Von Trier with Melancholia.

Meanwhile, Fremaux is fielding a bumper crop of French directors: Perennial Cannes favourite Robert Guedeguian returns with The Snows Of Kilimanjaro in Un certain regard about a happily married middle aged couple whose lives are torn apart by an armed attack in which they are beaten, tied up and robbed. Gueduguian regulars Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Ariane Ascaride star.

Bruno Dumont will deliver his sixth film The Empire for Un certain regard, which is set in the Pas-de-Calais region in the northernmost part of France. David Dewaele plays a mysterious man who lives in the dunes and combats evil in a small village community.

Bertrand Bonello, who was in the Quinzaine in 2008 with De La Guerre, has a new offering in the official selection, House Of Tolerance set in the early 20th century and starring Noemie Lvovsky as a disfigured prostitute.

Michel Hazanavicius, the director behind the OSS films, reunites with his OSS star Jean Dujardin on the black and white silent comedy The Artist (out of competition) about a silent movie star whose career is destined to end with the arrival of sound in 1927. An international cast includes John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle and Berenice Bejo.

Maiwenn, the actress/filmmaker is generating heat for her third film as director, Polisse, which is set among the men and women who work in the child protection unit of the Paris police. Maiwenn is the sister of actress Isild Le Besco. Polisse also stars with Joey Starr, Marina Fois, Karin Viard, Nicolas Duvauchelle and Italy's Ricardo Scamarcio.

One of the most intriguing out of competition titles is The Conquest, Xavier Durringer's narrative film about the rise to power of French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the separation from his second wife Cecilia. Carla Bruni, the president's wife, is one of Woody Allen's star turns in Midnight in Paris, the opener. Greek actor Denis Podalydes plays Sarkozy and Florence Pernel plays Cecilia.

The film, which could be hugely embarrassing for Sarkozy, is the first about a French president to be made while he is in office but Fremaux assured journalists that the Elysee put no pressure on the Festival.

The image on the poster of Faye Dunaway comes from the little seen Puzzle of a Downfall Child, which screens in a restored print from Universal Pictures. Director Jerry Schatzberg took the photo in 1970. Schatzberg is a filmmaker from New York who won the Palme d'Or in 1973 for Scarecrow.

De Niro who has come to Cannes with films in selection eight times including two which won the Palme d'Or (1976's Taxi Driver and 1986's The Mission) has said about his role: "The Cannes Film Festival is a rare opportunity for me as it is one of the oldest and one of the best in the world." He added, "As co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival and the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, I have an increased appreciation for the jury, who serve, undertaking an important role in choosing films that are represented in the world of film at its highest level, and these types of festivals help connect the international film community and have a lasting cultural impact."

The festival runs from May 11-22.

The 19 films competing for the Palme d'Or:

The Skin I Live In by Pedro Almodovar

L'Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) by Bertrand Bonello,

Footnote by Joseph Cedar

Pater by d'Alain Cavalier

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

The Boy on the Bike by Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne

Le Havre by d'Aki Kaurismäki

Hanezu no Tsuki by Naomi Kawase

Sleeping Beauty by Julia Leigh

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lynne Ramsay

Polisse by Maïwenn,

The Tree of Life by Terrence Malik, with Brad Pitt

This Must Be the Place by Paolo Sorrentino

La source des femmes by Radu Mihaileanu

Habemus Papam by Nanni Moretti

Melancholia by Lars Von Trier

Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn

Michael by Markus Schleinzer

Ichimei by Takashi Miike

Out of competition:

The Beaver by Jodie Foster

The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides by Rob Marshall

La Conquête de by Xavier Durringer and Patrick Rotman

The 19 films selected for Un Certain Regard:

Restless by Gus Van Sant (opening film)

The Hunter by Bakur Bakuradze

Halt auf freier Strecke by Andreas Dresen

Hors Satan by Bruno Dumont

Martha Marcy May Marlene by Sean Durkin

The Snows of Kiliminjaro by Robert Guédiguian

Skoonheid by Oliver Hermanus

The Day He Arrives by Hong Sang-Soo

Bonsaï by Cristian Jimenez

Tatsumi by Eric Khoo

Et maintenant, on va où? by Nadine Labaki

Arirang by Kim Ki-Duk

Toomelah by Ivan Sen

Yellow Sea by Na Hong-jin

Oslo, August 31st by Joachim Trier

L'exercice de l'Etat by Pierre Schoeller

Travailler fatigue by Juliana Rojas et Marco Dutra

Miss Bala by Gerardo Naranjo

Loverboy by Catalin Mitulescu


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Source: Variety

Sony Pictures, the studio responsible for releasing the last two James Bond movies, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, won a bidding war to distribute the next installment in the franchise, currently named Bond 23. After a bidding war in which Warner Brothers, Paramount and 20th Century Fox competed for the rights to the next Bond movie, Sony emerged victorious, and will help shepherd the film through production later this year.

MGM has played host to the franchise since its inception in 1962 with Dr. No. Meanwhile, when MGM's library folded into 20th Century Fox, that studio has released the films on DVD and Blu-ray, making them a potentially suitable candidate for distribution of future films. But after the success of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, MGM has put their faith in the hands of Sony yet again. Unfortunately, no cast or crew is in place for the upcoming film, although Daniel Craig is rumored to be returning under the auspices of director Sam Mendes.


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CANNES -- The film Restless by Gus Van Sant will open Un Certain Regard, selection of the Festival de Cannes, on the evening of Thursday, May 12.

Produced by Columbia Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and 360 Pictures, the film examines the relationship of two teenagers, played by Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hooper.

Gus Van Sant received the Palme d'or in 2003 for Elephant and the 60th anniversary award for Paranoid Park (2007). His first nomination at the Festival de Cannes was in 1995 for To Die For.

Un Certain Regard chooses close to twenty films each year for its official selection. The president of the jury, Emir Kusturica, will present the Prize Un Certain Regard on May 21.

The official selection will be announced on Thursday, April 14.


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LOS ANGELES, CA and MORRISTOWN, NJ -- Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp.(NASDAQ: CIDM) today announced that their fourth quarter 2011 signed VPF deployment agreements totaled 1,402 screens and 32 exhibitors at 142 sites, marking the biggest number of individual exhibitors and screens signed in a quarter in the company's history.

Additionally, Cinedigm physically installed 1,885 screens during the fiscal year, making it the largest number of installations since the start of Phase 2 in March 2008.

In the combined Phase One and Phase Two digital cinema deployment program, Cinedigm has:
• Signed 7,657 screens overall at 750 sites
• Installed 5,919 digital screens
• Signed 59 Cinema Buying Group exhibitors, representing close to 1,450 screens
• Signed exhibitor buyer deals representing close to 3,100 screens
• Signed Cinedigm financed deals, with Phase 2 representing close to 1,000 screens
Cinedigm-installed screens account for over 35% of the total 16,000+ digital screens in the United States and Canada*.

"Cinedigm brings a unique program of products and services for exhibitors to realize the full power and benefits of their digital cinema platform," said Chuck Goldwater, President, Media Services Group. "Throughout our company we continue to innovate and implement new and compelling options that expand our exhibitor partners operations and revenue generating opportunities, which is a strong factor in their signing with Cinedigm."

Cinedigm's Digital Cinema division is the industry-leading deployment program for Digital Cinema. It facilitates the funding, installation support and administration for the company's Digital Cinema rollout plans. Cinedigm, which is supported by long-term VPF agreements with all the major studios, is also the digital cinema integrator partner for the CBG, a buying program of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) for small and independent theatre operators in United States and Canada.

"Cinedigm is without question the number one choice for exhibitors to entrust with their digital cinema program," continued Goldwater. "We have earned that trust with an unmatched record of reliability and proven performance, delivering on our promises since ‘Day 1' of digital cinema. We are so proud of all our exhibitor partners and look forward to continuing to support their digital cinema business plans and ambitions for many years to come."

Cinedigm offers a new business model to exhibitors by enabling theaters to present engaging alternative programming including live 2-D and 3-D sporting events and concerts, shorts, cartoons, live Q&A's, as well as branded entertainment. Recent releases by Cinedigm include the groundbreaking, worldwide LIVE 3D broadcast of the FIFA World Cup Championship, the BCS Championship in LIVE 3D, the Dave Matthews Band 3D concerts, and the sold out 3D PHISH concerts. Cinedigm has also released the KIDTOONS series for the past six years, a weekly family friendly matinee series that runs in over 165 theatres across the country.

* These figures do not include IMAX screens.


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