Big Names, ‘Indiana Jones’ Head to Cannes

The Cannes Film Festival lineup was unveiled Wednesday morning in Paris with a few surprises in the mix.

Variety had reported late yesterday that Clint Eastwood’s Changeling would get a competition berth, which it did. Further, despite rumors of the films not being completed, Steven Soderbergh’s Che Guevara biopics, both starring Benicio Del Toro, are slotted to run back-to-back in a four-hour competition screening.

As predicted, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will screen out of competition and mark Steven Spielberg’s return to the red carpet for the first time since 1985’s Color Purple.

Jury members at Cannes include president Sean Penn, actress Natalie Portman, and filmmakers Alfonso Cuaron and Rachid Bouchareb, but the total curiously amounts to only seven this year. In previous years, it has been the norm to have a nine-member jury. Still, given that the Un Certain Regard and Camera d’Or juries are as-yet incomplete, there may be more names to come.

At present, there are 19 titles in competition as compared to last year’s 22. Three, including Soderbergh’s opus and Eastwood’s Changeling, are from the U.S., along with Charlie Kaufman‘s directorial debut Synecdoche, New York.

In addition to Indiana Jones, films screening out of competition include Woody Allen‘s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, with Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz, and Mark Osborne and John Stevenson‘s Kung Fu Panda, featuring the the voice of Jack Black.

Variety says what’s really eye-catching about Cannes’ 2008 Official selection is how the competition throws the spotlight on a clutch of directors who are hardly branded auteurs, however much their films are being talked up in their home countries.

The Israeli industry’s been buzzing for months, Variety points out, about Ari Folman’s competition entry, Waltz with Bashir, an animated feature about Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

Last year’s Palme D’Or went to Romanian abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

The festival kicks off May 14 and runs through the 23rd, although neither the opening nor closing night films have been announced.