CANNES -- Longtime indie maverick Atom Egoyan is back in Cannes with "The Sweet Hereafter," and these were the whispers at Thursday's press confab: The moons may be aligned for helmer Egoyan to walk off with the Palme.
Egoyan, a Cannes veteran who wooed European cineastes two years back with the quirky "Exotica," was joined on a Palais dais by "Sweet" producers Robert Lantos and Camilia Frieberg, stars Sarah Polley and Bruce Greenwood, and Russell Banks, the novelist whose dark tome about a community shattered by the deaths of some of its children was the springboard for Egoyan's official selection entrant.
"I wanted to examine lives that, because of a terrible accident, were heightened to the level of mythology," Egoyan told the press, many of whom had just seen Egoyan's film and were clearly shaken by its subject matter. What resulted was a press gathering most notable for its rumination on death and the metaphysical.
"In grief we often want to blame someone," Egoyan said of "Sweet's" subject matter. "We think it helps us find an answer. But what happens in 'Sweet' is that in this quest for blame, we deal with other questions that pertain to the basic truth of who we are."
Egoyan, who speaks fluent French, was said by many at the confab to have been "robbed" when his 1995 Cannes entrant, "Exotica," failed to win a top prize. He is also going to assist festival fave Michelangelo Antonioni in the latter's next film. Thus, many at the conference openly wondered if Egoyan may be the "politically correct" candidate for this year's Palme.
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