Sports stars, rockers hog limelight at film fests

Tue May 20, 2008 6:11am EDT
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By Charles Masters and Scott Roxborough

CANNES (Hollywood Reporter) - Make some room on the Croisette, movie stars -- the icons of sports and music are crashing the party.

Tuesday night's red carpet gala features a veteran superstar with arguably wider global fame than Harrison Ford. Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona will be in town for the midnight screening of the documentary "Maradona by Kusturica." A gaggle of fellow soccer stars are also expected to be on hand.

The movie typifies a recent trend in major fests -- notably Berlin and Cannes -- combining as it does impeccable cinematic credentials from two-time Palme d'Or winner Emir Kusturica and a star from a different arena. Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert film "Shine a Light," which opened this year's Berlinale, is another prime example; it generated more excitement than any other picture at that festival.

Other recent non-cinema stars gracing film fests include former world heavyweight champ Mike Tyson, here for James Toback's documentary "Tyson"; Madonna, who was also at the Berlinale; U2, who performed in Cannes last year; and French soccer player Zinedine Zidane, who was here in 2006. The phenomenon even extends to politicians, with ex-U.S. vice president Al Gore gracing Cannes for "An Inconvenient Truth"


So are festivals looking to cash in on the media pulling power of stars from outside cinema?

"The rules are simple: We welcome films and those who appear in them," said Cannes general delegate Thierry Fremaux, himself a huge soccer fan. "Last year, U2 came for 'U2 3D.' Tyson and Maradona in Cannes is a happy coincidence, but these are first and foremost good films made by two great directors."

Fremaux acknowledged that such crossover talent gains wider coverage for the festival.   Continued...

<p>President of the Jury Sean Penn (R) and singer Bono arrive for the screening of "Un Conte de Noel" by French director Arnaud Desplechin at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 16, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>