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Austin's Nichols to take 'Mud' to main Cannes competition

Charles Ealy

Austin director Jeff Nichols took a major leap into the ranks of the world's best filmmakers on Thursday when the Cannes Film Festival announced that his new movie "Mud" would play in the main competition.

Nichols won last year's Critics Week sidebar with "Take Shelter," but the selection of "Mud" for the more prestigious competition for the Palme d'Or means that he and his stars will walk the red carpet at the festival's palais.

Austin filmmaker Terrence Malick became the first Texas filmmaker to win the Palme d'Or last year with "The Tree of Life."

"Mud" has a stellar cast, including Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey, longtime Nichols collaborator Michael Shannon and Sam Shepard.

Tye Sheridan, a Texan who played one of the children in Malick's "The Tree of Life," plays one of two young boys who discover a fugitive on an island in the Mississippi River and try to help him.

Another Texas director, Wes Anderson, will be screening his latest, "Moonrise Kingdom," as the festival's opening-night film, as was previously announced.

But in an unusual move, the festival has placed the film in competition, which means that two Texans will be competing for the Palme d'Or for the first time in the history of Cannes.

Nichols and Anderson will join some of the world's most famous directors at this year's festival.

Other films in competition include Michael Haneke's "Amour," Ken Loach's "The Angel's Share," Cristian Mungiu's "Beyond the Hills," David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis," Andrew Dominick's "Killing Them Softly," John Hillcoat's "Lawless" and Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy."

Daniels, who is best known for the drama "Precious," directs Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack and McConaughey in his latest drama.

But Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" will probably stir up the biggest craze among the ever-present Cannes photographers.

It stars Robert Pattinson of "Twilight" as a billionaire asset manager in Manhattan and it's based on the Don DeLillo novel.

The Cannes Film Festival begins May 16 and continues through May 27.

Contact Charles Ealy at 445-3931.

Other films in competition are: