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Does director Malick exist?

May 17, 2011

Admittedly with tongue firmly in cheek, French reporters in Cannes for the film festival are pondering the unthinkable — does U.S. director Terrence Malick actually exist?

Most film makers are only too happy to share the limelight with their cast at the world’s biggest showcase, bathed in sunshine so far this year and the scene of an endless circus of screenings, press conferences and parties frequented by the beautiful people.

Not so Malick. The notoriously shy director’s “The Tree of Life”, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, is in competition this year and is one of the most talked-about movies at the festival so far. Only his fifth feature film and the first for six years, anticipation was high for a picture that tackles nothing less than the question of the meaning of life. Yet the 67-year-old “The Thin Red Line” director is nowhere to be seen. Pitt took most of the questions during the post-screening press conference, and Malick did not show on the red carpet.

Presenters on the festival’s official television channel joked that he may not actually exist. One said that Malick had been caught on camera briefly on Monday by a journalist who actually thought he was Brian de Palma.

Many reporters assumed Malick was not in Cannes, but French director Luc Besson suggested that the sighting may have been genuine. “He is shy, he’s just very shy,” he said on the red carpet before the world premiere of The Tree of Life. “He’s not far from here.”

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