Cannes Film Festival jury keeping an open mind

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By Jill Lawless, Associated Press

CANNES, France (AP) — If Nanni Moretti had his way, what happened in Cannes would stay in Cannes.

The Italian director is heading the film festival's jury and will preside over the now-traditional post-prizes press conference when the movie extravaganza wraps up May 27. He preferred it in the old days, when jury meetings were a bit like the thoughts of the conclave of cardinals who choose Roman Catholic popes — the subject of Moretti's most recent film, "Habemus Papam."

"There were two remaining taboos in the world — the silence after the awards and the conclave," Moretti said as the festival opened Wednesday. "Now it's just the conclave."

Moretti — who won the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, in 2006 for "The Son's Room" — heads a nine-member panel that includes actors Ewan McGregor and Diane Kruger, directors Alexander Payne and Raoul Peck and fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Speaking to journalists before they watch 22 films over the next 11 days, the jurors said they had tried to come to the festival without preconceptions. McGregor said he didn't even read the list of films in competition until he arrived Tuesday.

All said they wanted to be taken unawares by the entries, which include movies by past Cannes winners Michael Haneke, Ken Loach and Abbas Kiarostami as well as relative newcomers like American directors Jeff Nichols and Lee Daniels.

Gaultier, who has designed costumes for films by Luc Besson and Pedro Almodovar, said he was looking for "a film that triggers a real emotion, and surprise" — and wouldn't just focus on style.

"If the film really touches me, moves me, it's not just a question of aesthetics," he said.

Payne, a self-described "big film buff," said he was trying to approach each movie as if "I'd never seen a film in my life."

Several jurors are Cannes veterans. Moretti has had six movies in the festival, while Kruger starred in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 contender "Inglourious Basterds."

McGregor, who came to Cannes with "Trainspotting" and "Moulin Rouge," said sitting on a jury was a very different experience — and more fun.

"As an actor ... when we come to festivals we show our films, and we get to see our film, and then we sit in a dark room for three days with your good selves, and then we go home," he told reporters. "What a privilege it will be to sit in the dark for 12 days and have all these great stories sweep over us."

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