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At the Movies: Cannes Do!:

The streets of Santa Monica will be showcased at Cannes, still the biggest and most popular film festival of the year. One Child, a short film about a young Chinese girl trying to connect with her birth parents, sheds a harsh light on China’s population policy. Directed by Gino Cabanas, the film will be screened at Short Film Corner, dedicated to promoting short films and providing a platform for producers and directors to showcase their films at the Festivale de Cannes in France, May 16 to 21, 2008.

And the film’s producer, Donna Roa, hope that there will be enough interest in the project to expand the short into a feature. “Our goal,” she says, “is to connect to financiers/investors interested in financing a development deal or producing the feature film.”

Roa, a former Public Affairs Director for the US Environmental Protection Agency and social scientist specializing in Asia at the US Information Agency, hopes that the film “artfully positions a disastrous social policy that affects the lives of millions of girls in China and throughout the world with one child’s wish to connect to her birth family.”

Cannes Suddenly a Springboard for Oscar Showing films at Cannes, which is arguably the first stop on the Oscar tour, can be a risky proposition. When Sofia Coppola brought her daring and untraditional Marie Antoinette to the fest it was roundly booed, which set it on a downward spiral as it made its way to America. On the other hand, last year’s Best Picture winner, No Country for Old Men, started its winners walk at Cannes last year, getting such rave reviews that it was already the talk of the town as early as May.

Other films have gotten their start at Cannes, but not necessarily an Oscar push. With so many film festivals sprouting up throughout the year, Cannes has the advantage of being the most well-known, the biggest, and certainly one of the oldest film fests. Where Toronto used to have the edge, Oscar-wise, lately Sundance and Cannes seem to be where films can get early traction that carries them through Oscar season.

This year’s slate at Cannes promises to be one of the best lineups in years, with Clint Eastwood bringing The Changeling, while Steven Soderbergh’s eagerly anticipated double Che Guevara epic will be shown to critics for the first time. Although Soderbergh isn’t yet finished with the film, it’s just too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Soderbergh has made two films about the legendary revolutionary called Guerilla and The Argentine, covering Guevara’s layered early and later adventures. He is played by Benicio Del Toro, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Guevara. This project re-teams Soderbergh and Del Toro for the first time since they both won Oscars for Traffic.

Other films taking flight at Cannes include Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s Adoration, Fernando Meirelles’ Blindness, Walter Salles & Daniela Thomas’ Linha De Passe, Charlie Kaufman making his directorial debut with Synecdoche, and legendary German director Wim Wenders’ The Palermo Shooting.

More how profile films out of competition, like Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which bring the Croisette its most impressive eye candy, with Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem sure to make an impression. Other big names to look forward to at Cannes include a very pregnant Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and Julianne Moore, to name a few.

The Cannes jury, who hands out the coveted Palme d’Or, includes actors Sean Penn, Natalie Portman, and director Alfonso Cuaron. The festival begins May 16.

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