Summit Picks Up ‘Fair Game’ and ‘The Tree’ Will Close Cannes

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A couple of Cannes Film Festival related news items to discuss, beginning with the news Summit Entertainment has acquired the rights to Doug Liman’s Fair Game starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. The independent film was hoping to gain a distributor before it hit the Croisette in Cannes where it will make its debut on May 20.

Fair Game is based on the story of Valerie Plame, whose status with the CIA was compromised by leaks from Bush Administration insiders to journalists. The synopsis I’ve been using on the site goes as follows:

On July 6, 2003, four months after the United States invaded Iraq, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s now historic op-ed, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” appeared in The New York Times. A week later, conservative pundit Robert Novak revealed in his newspaper column that Ambassador Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame Wilson (Naomi Watts), was a covert CIA agent. The public disclosure of that classified information spurred a federal investigation and led to the trial and conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, and the Wilsons’ civil suit against top officials of the Bush administration. Much has been written about the “Valerie Plame” story, but Valerie herself has been silent, until now. Some of what has been reported about her has been frighteningly accurate, serving as a pungent reminder to the Wilsons that their lives are no longer private. And some has been completely false – distorted characterizations of Valerie and her husband and their shared integrity.

While Summit has picked the film up, Liman isn’t quite done with the feature just yet, telling Movieline‘s S.T. Vanairsdale on Tuesday (4/27), “We’re almost done. I was just on the phone with my producer. I’ve got to go back to the cutting room. It ships to Cannes next week.”

Liman is big on Watts’s performance in the film, which I have included in my “The Contenders” section, adding, “It’s the best she’s ever been. She is just extraordinary in the film. I don’t think there’s anybody – I don’t care how hardcore Republican they might be – who’s not going to look at the film and say, ‘That was an extraordinary performance. That was a once-in-a-lifetime performance.'”

As far as releasing a politically themed movie in the current social climate his answer as to how it fits into the political intrigue/spy thriller spectrum may leave you with something to say, “I think it’s in the spectrum of “It’s a really great movie.” And a lot of other movies that have been about the war or dealt with the war have not been great movies. In fact, they’ve been motivated more by politics than by story, and that’s been a turn-off to audiences. This is sort of the first political movie that’s been made where I feel like the commitment was there from the first moment to story and character, and not to politics.”

I can’t wait to see it…

The second order of business is news Charlotte Gainsbourg will be returning to Cannes after winning Best Actress last year for her performance in the controversial Antichrist. This year the film is The Tree, in which she co-stars with Marton Csokas and is directed by Julie Bertucelli.

The image to the right is of Gainsbourg in the film as Dawn, mother to 8-year-old Simone who has shared a secret with her mother: her father whispers to her through the leaves of the tree by their house. Simone is convinced that he’s come back to protect her family. Soon, Simone’s three brothers and Dawn also take comfort in the reassuring tree. But the new bond between mother and daughter is threatened when Dawn starts dating George. Simone moves into the treehouse and refuses to come down. With branches infiltrating the house and roots destroying the foundations, the tree seems to be siding with Simone. Dawn refuses to let the tree take control of her family

The Tree will serve as the Closing Night film and you can get a larger, more fuller look at the image above right here.