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April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The menu of films at the Cannes Film Festival is never complete without the added spice of controversy — and this year’s lineup is no exception. There is Scotish director Lynn Ramsay’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, which explores the aftermath of a Columbine-type school shooting through the eyes of the parents of the shooter. Then there’s Australian Julia Leigh’s debut feature Sleeping Beauty, described as “a haunting erotic fairy tale about a student who drifts into prostitution and finds her niche as a woman who sleeps, drugged, in a ‘Sleeping Beauty chamber’ while men do to her what she can’t remember the next morning.” It already created a small political storm in Australia when it received government funding. Close to home, there’s director Xavier Durringer’s The Conquest, to be screened out of competition, about the rise to power of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. And then there’s the Jodie Foster-directed The Beaver, starring Mel Gibson, whose release has been delayed repeatedly because of Gibson’s outraageous behavior. It, too, will be screened out of competition, a decision that might have been based in part on the fact that the head of the jury is Robert De Niro, who might have been emotionally conflicted about it. On the one hand, he is known to have had a longtime friendship with Foster, who starred opposite him in the 1976 classic Taxi Driver. On the other hand, De Niro quit the production of Edge of Darkness following a reported falling-out with co-star Mel Gibson.