[ENTERTAINMENT]Woody decides to stop kicking Cannes

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[ENTERTAINMENT]Woody decides to stop kicking Cannes

Woody Allen is going to Cannes this year? Is the film guru, at 67, turning over a new leaf? Maybe he got tired of eschewing film festivals to stay home and play the clarinet at a jazz club in New York.

Allen has a record of blowing off festivals and award shows that fall all over themselves to honor him. In 1978 he gave the cold shoulder to the Academy Awards ceremonies when "Annie Hall" took Oscars for best picture and best director.

But after gracing this year's Academy Awards with his presence, when he paid tribute to New York-related films, Allen is off to Cannes for the 55th Cannes International Film Festival, which begins May 15. Though the organizers have been snubbed by Allen in the past ?he got invitations for the screenings of "Manhattan" (1979) and "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) ?they never gave up on him.

Now Allen's latest work, "Hollywood Ending" will open the world's premier film festival. In the contemporary comedy and drama, Allen stars as an over-the-hill movie director who decides to wage a comeback. He gets help from his ex-wife (Tea Leoni), but she is dating a studio executive. To make matters worse, he is going temporarily blind.

Why did Allen decide to finally do Cannes? "The French have been so supportive and nice to me over the years," Allen told reporters recently. "And I've been invited so many times; I wanted to give something back, particularly since I felt this film was so right for the occasion."

Not surprisingly, the Cannes people are excited. One of the organizers, Gilles Jacob, said: "When we presented 'Manhattan,' the audience applauded endlessly. To see Woody Allen, 20 years later, open the festival in person seems dreamlike. Let us all get ready to cheer, in the flesh, one of the greatest filmmakers of our time."

In contrast to Allen's aversion to public appearances, many other filmmakers are keen to step out on the hallowed red carpets of Cannes.

A number of Koreans have submitted films they hope will be shown at Cannes. One of the first Korean directors ever to make it in Cannes was Im Kwon-taek, for his 2000 film "Chunhyang," based on Korea's most beloved traditional love story. His candidate for a second run at the festival is "Chwihwaseon" ("Immortal Flame"), which opens May 10 in Korea. The latest movie tells the story of Jang Seung-up, a painter in the Joseon Dynasty.

Another hopeful is Hong Sang-soo, one of Korea's most notable arthouse directors, whose "Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors" (2000) played last year at Cannes. But Hong is in a dispute over the English title of his submitted film. The movie, "Saenghwalui Balgyeon," is titled "On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate" in English. The distributor of the movie, Miracin Korea Film, told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition that the title was too unwieldy and that it had told Hong to shorten it to "The Turning Gate." But so far Hong has resisted.

While Im's and Hong's films are submitted as competition films, Park Chan-wook, the director of "Joint Security Area" (1999), is entering the noncompetitive category with "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance." Also entered in the same category is Lee Jeong-hyang's "The Road Home," about the heartwarming relationship of a boy and his grandmother.

The filmmakers will learn later this month if their works made the cut.

by Ki Sun-min

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