Cannes film fest will weather crisis: organisers


June 18, 2010 Updated Apr 23, 2009 at 3:12 PM EDT

Next month's Cannes film festival expects to pull through the economic crisis relatively unscathed, organisers said Thursday as they unveiled their star-studded official selection.

"We are seeing a slight drop in attendance among professionals from around the world, who appear to be sending slightly fewer people, for slightly shorter periods," the festival's president Gilles Jacob told a news conference.

"But that is the only sign of the crisis we can see at present. Our screenings are fully-booked, all our stands are full," Jacob said when asked about the impact of the global slowdown on the May 13-24 Riviera festival.

US director Quentin Tarantino, Taiwan's Ang Lee, the British Cannes veteran Ken Loach and Spain's Pedro Almodovar are some of the biggest names among the 20 filmmakers set to square off for the coveted Palme d'Or award.

Star power and prestige have helped Cannes limit the damage from the slowdown compared to some other big industry events, with the usual cast of A-list stars, hot directors and Hollywood studios set to jet in.

But according to a recent AFP survey of advertisers and local professionals, belt-tightening is in the air with industry players trimming back on the number of delegates, champagne-fuelled parties and expensive extras.

The Cannes festival's artistic director Thierry Fremaux said he was confident however that US studios in particular "will definitely be there" -- including Pixar-Disney whose latest 3D movie "Up" is opening the festival.

Jerome Paillard, the director of the Cannes film market, which runs parallel to the festival on May 13-22, also told AFP he was fairly confident in the business prospects for the film industry's top annual event.

"A lot of buyers are coming -- but not necessarily with huge budgets."

"We are in a period that is not easy -- and we can't expect any miracles," he said -- pointing out that the film industry is squeezed by online piracy and the collapse in video sales, as well as the global economic crisis.

Three weeks before the 12-day extravaganza kicks off, the Cannes film market -- the world's biggest with some 10,000 producers and distributors from 97 countries -- has signed up some 3,200 films.

The number of press accreditations is stable compared to last year, which saw 4,300 journalists registered to cover the world's biggest media event after the Olympic Games, organisers said.

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