Animation film "Up" may lift gloom as Cannes opens

Tue May 12, 2009 8:44pm EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival marks a first on Wednesday when it opens with "Up," an animation comedy that may help lift some of the recessionary gloom overshadowing cinema's biggest and glitziest gathering.

Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Disney's Pixar studios, "Up" has already been declared a triumph in advance reviews and was described by trade paper "The Hollywood Reporter" as "arguably the funniest Pixar effort ever."

But the tale of a retired balloon salesman and a zealous boy scout will need all the charm it can muster to outweigh a mood of anxiety and caution on the palm-lined Croisette waterfront this year.

As ever the big hotels are full and plastered with advertisements for forthcoming blockbusters, party tents still line the beach and there are plenty of yachts in the bay.

But many of the boats are unchartered, Vanity Fair's exclusive party has been canceled and there has already been talk of potential deals falling through and spending cutbacks.

Festival director Thierry Fremaux says he believes that this year there will be fewer of the celebrity-driven peripheral events that make Cannes the destination of choice for the world's top stars and movie moguls.

The more restrained mood, however, may help the thousands of accredited journalists to focus on the festival's core business.

"Around Cannes, perhaps it was just too much sometimes, too much partying. This year perhaps we can think about the cinema, not the stars and the starlets and the excessiveness of Cannes but the emphasis on the films," Fremaux told Reuters Television.   Continued...

<p>People walk past a giant advertising board for the animated film "Up", directed by Pete Docter, in front of the Carlton Hotel in Cannes on the eve of the 62nd Cannes film Festival May 12, 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>