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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Oh say can you see by the Normandy light?

While somewhat of a departure from the glamorous star-studded fest of yesteryear, the 2005 Deauville Film Festival brought a series of independent films to the Normandy coast in celebration of American cinema. Religion, the banality of daily life and hardship in the ghetto were among the more popular subjects explored by the directors who came to sunny Deauville to present their labors of love.

Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, Paul Haggis' Crash and Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride were among the most buzzed-about films at the 31st annual fest while Juliette Binoche returned to her native soil (onscreen only, as her appearance at the fest was cancelled last-minute) with two startlingly analogous religious dramas, David Siegel and Scott McGhee's Bee Season and Abel Ferrar's highly anticipated Mary, both films receiving mixed reviews from festival goers.

The jury was led by President Alain Corneau who joined Dominique Blanc, Romane Bohringer, Rachida Brakni, Brigitt Roüan, Enki Bilal, Christophe, Dominik Moll and Melvil Poupaud on the coast to welcome an eclectic array of films from across the Atlantic.
Marcos Siega's first film Pretty Persuasion made a controversial debut at the festival with sexual taboo and religious slurs ubiquitous throughout the film starring Evan Rachel Wood who gives yet another remarkably genuine and disturbing performance as a young Beverly Hills teenager who manipulates everyone around her by bringing a sexual harassment case against her teacher to court.

On the other side of the tracks, Michael Skolnick and Lori Silverbush's terrifyingly real On The Outs tells the story of three young girls from Jersey City who struggle to survive in their inner city world of drugs, sex and murder. The three young actresses give some of the best performances I have seen in a film all year, and the film itself is emotionally stirring despite being riddled with cliché. David LaChapelle's Rize also explores life in the rough part of town, but, in contrast to the depressing On The Outs, LaChapelle's first feature film shows the optimistic side of life in the ghetto. The star-studded premiere began with a live dance performance on stage at the C.I.D. as the French hosts announced, "Maintenant, on va krump-er!" The French audience embraced this visually stimulating yet emotionally tough film about the groundbreaking dance phenomenon sweeping over North America.

Miranda July's Me, You and Everyone We Know, the official "love child" of the Cannes Film Festival, returned to France for another warm reception with its quirky look at life in small town America. Steve Buscemi's small town flick Lonesome Jim made it to Deauville, although the director himself did not. Many were disappointed when the "Rendez-vous with Steve Buscemi" was cancelled, but perhaps not as disappointed as those who saw his disheartening, arguably futile look at perhaps the most depressing family in the United States.

Although Venice certainly triumphed this year as far as high-profile celebrity appearances go, Kirsten Dunst did make it to the Normandy coast to present Elizabethtown, Cameron Crowe's most personal work yet, which generally pleased the crowds though rumor has it the film will be cut by about 17 minutes before opening in the US on October 14th. Pierce Brosnan also dazzled the coast with his presence to promote his opening night film, Matador, directed by Richard Shepard, about a cynical and alcoholic hitman who finds himself no longer able to enjoy the "fun" of killing people for money. Joel Silver, Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Shane Black and Michelle Monaghan also blew a few kisses into the crowd to promote their crowd-pleasing comedy Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.

Though young talents frolicked about on Deauville's beaches and casinos, industry veterans were most valued as the festival organized special tributes to Ron Howard, James Toback, Robert Towne, Forest Whitaker and Budd Schulberg. Roman Polanski spoke to a full house on Saturday, September 3rd praising Robert Towne as "the best director I've ever worked with." James Toback was honored before the screening of The Ballad of Jack and Rose on Monday, September 5th and Ron Howard before the screening of his critic-pleasing Cinderella Man on Tuesday, September 6th. At his press conference, Howard refused to give away any information to curious press about the state of his upcoming Da Vinci Code film. Alain Corneau addressed a large audience on Friday night, September 9th, at the C.I.D. giving praise to Forest Whitaker's incredible range of powerful performances on-screen as a montage of film clips highlighted Whitaker's contributions to the "septième art." Deauville's prestigious literary prize was awarded this year to the young-at-heart author and screenwriter Budd Schulberg whose 91 years didn't prevent him from crossing the Atlantic to be honored by a jury of prominent French literary figures at a dinner at the Hotel Royale Barrière. French writer Frédéric Beigbeder introduced one of his literary heroes and told the crowd "I love this guy" before Schulberg accepted his award with an unwittingly political acceptance speech thanking his French friends for being loyal supporters of America's "blue states."

The Prix Michel d'Ornano went to Karin Albou's French drama, La Petite Jerusalem, which screened on Saturday, September 10th and was presented by Albou along with film star Fanny Valette. Later that night, festival goers took part in a screening marathon with back-to-back premieres of John Singleton's Four Brothers followed by Danny Cannon's Goal and the highly anticipated Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.

Despite some ironic laughter during the screening of Buscemi's Lonesome Jim when Liv Tyler's character announces her desire to move to New Orleans., this Gallic fest refused to forget its American friends suffering across the sea. At the start of the festival, Deauville Mayor Philippe Augier gave his best wishes to "the people suffering in New Orleans, that most French of American cities." The 31st annual Festival of American Cinema certainly turned Deauville into the most American of French cities yet maintained its traditionally high level of elegance, artistic experimentation and prestige. As Alain Corneau observed, "C'est un bon festival." ("It's a great festival.")

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