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Edited by Sarah Cooper For more tales from the Croisette, see DIARY

of a 10-year-old boy’s life with his abductor, exudes the seriousness that mentor Haneke would be proud of, the film is very much a product of Schleinzer’s own ambi- tion. ‘‘While some directors who val-

Markus Schleinzer Michael

From one Michael …to another

BY ANDREAS WISEMAN First-time director Markus Sch- leinzer is one of this year’s Cin- derella stories. The Austrian director’s feature debut, Michael, is screening in Competition today, but the former casting director is no stranger to acclaimed Croisette titles, having enjoyed a long- standing collaboration with fellow

countryman Michael Haneke which has seen him cast Palme d’Or winner The White Ribbon and The Piano Teacher. This year, however, it’s Sch-

leinzer’s turn to take centre stage, with his drama the only German- language title in Competition. And while the hard-hitting Michael, about the last five months

Does this sound familiar?

BYSARAH COOPER When we wrote a blog about people being scammed in Cannes, we were talking about dodgy accommodation sellers and pickpockets. So we were surprised to receive

an e-mail response from a UK film-maker, Lajaune Lincoln, who has written a black comedy based around another kind of con artist in Cannes — a deviant sales agent who survives on free canapés and Champagne, and resorts to black-

mail to save his ailing business. We can’t understand where he came up with that idea. The screenplay is based on Lin-

coln and his business partner Sav Akyuz’s experiences of bringing their first feature for their produc- tion company Splitwigs, Other Side Of The Game, to Cannes in 2009. “Going around the sales agents’ stands was a bit like going to market stalls, where people are selling fruit and veg at a discount price,” he laughs.

Good vibrations

We are always on the lookout for fun freebies, but it’s not often a mini sex toy lands on the Screen desk. French sales company Elle Driver is handing them out to pro- mote period rom-com Hysteria starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, about

the invention of the vibrator. The film’s name was inspired by the fact that, in Victorian times, vibra- tors were used by doctors to cure women of ‘hysteria’. But don’t go getting ideas if the Screen team seems calmer than usual…

Hysteria: creating good buzz Samuel Miller

CASHCALL FOR KIWI SHOOT: New Zealand film-maker Samuel Miller is calling on the international production community in Cannes to help make his feature, Highland Heist, in earthquake-torn Christchurch. Backed by the New Zealand Film Commission, the action comedy is set in a Scottish village in which two brothers try to rob a security van. But Miller, who is producing with London- based Patrick Holzen with backing from post-production house Molinare, plans to shoot interiors in Christchurch, and exteriors on an island 600 miles from the city, as a double for the Scottish Highlands. “It would really lift morale to have some commitment,” says Miller, who can be contacted at

n 30 Screen International at the Cannes Film Festival May 14, 2011 Lajaune Lincoln and Sav Akyuz “We are hoping to go into devel-

opment later this year, provided the industry doesn’t find the material too close to home,” says Lincoln. It’s one brave sales agent who takes this one on.

ued my work as a casting director put the idea in my head to finally direct something myself and I learned a lot from Michael Haneke in terms of craft, this film is a result of my own personal vision,” says Schleinzer. “Casting teaches you a lot about working with actors and I always har- boured a desire to direct.” No doubt a recipient of some

invaluable advice along the way, what would Schleinzer say to bud- ding first-timers? ‘‘It’s not very smart handing out advice after having made only one film. Instead, I should be asking myself whether I have learned all I can for when it comes to making the next one.” Sound logic.

Liza Johnson

Artist turned film-maker Liza Johnson makes her feature debut with Return, a portrait of her hometown in Ohio starring Linda Cardellini,Michael Shannon and Tim Blake Nelson.

What inspired you to tell this story? I was partly motivated by the desire to tell a story that takes place in a town like I grew up in — a small former steel town in southern Ohio. I also was inspired by some conversations I had with a friend about trying to stay married after a military deployment. He had a lot to say about the gap of empathy which opens up between people who have been in very different environments. I felt like this was a story I wasn’t hearing about much in the news, which by its nature is always looking for a fire story or an extreme emergency. But this kind of intimate, everyday effect of separation was very moving to me. Did you do any research? Yes. I went back and spent time in the town where I grew up. I also spent time with women who had come home from military deployments in the current US wars. The character of Kelli is not based on any of them, or on any of the men I met, and the film doesn’t treat her like she’s a representative of all women soldiers. She’s just one character, but I wanted her to be plausible and it helped me a lot that so many people were willing to open up to me. How did the movie get financed? We partnered with Fork Films, which is headed by one of our executive

producers, Abigail Disney. Abby is an experienced film-maker, and is very committed to women: she even runs a feminist foundation that is separate from her film company. And she has a PhD from Columbia [University, in New York], where she wrote her dissertation on the literature of coming home from war. So she is a pretty great match for the project. Was it intimidating working with the greatMichael Shannon? No, it was a total pleasure. Michael is one of the most powerful actors I’ve ever seen, but he uses his power for the forces of good. His greatness that you refer to helped me when we were casting — it constantly challenged me to find someone like Linda, who could give it right back to him. Where and when did you shoot? We shot in Newburgh, New York, and in some other towns in the Hudson River Valley in October. What is the best advice you’ve been given ahead of Cannes? My editor, Paul Zucker, told me I should carry flat shoes in my purse. What do you plan to do in your spare time on the Croisette? I’m really excited to see other people’s films. On my list is Julia Leigh, Karim Ainouz, Lynne Ramsay, Gus Van Sant. What’s next? I have a new script, and also an unscripted project.

Jeremy Kay

Return is screening in Directors’ Fortnight today

Meet the debutants LIZA JOHNSON, RETURN


White cloud

high 19°


Heavy rain,

high 23°


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