Seen and heard at the Cannes Film Festival

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CANNES, France (AP) — Associated Press journalists open their notebooks at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

CANNES GIVES EBERT THUMBS UP

Film critics and festival-goers congregated on the Cannes beach to raise their thumbs to the late critic Roger Ebert.

The tribute Thursday followed a panel discussion about Ebert's impact on film criticism. Before his death in April, Ebert was a frequent presence at Cannes. In 2009, the festival named a conference center at the American Pavilion after the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic.

Chaz Ebert, the critic's wife, has been at Cannes throughout the festival this year, presiding over coverage for RogerEbert.com and filing "Postcards from Chaz to Roger." For years, Chaz accompanied her husband to the festival, but this year, she's carrying on their tradition alone.

"Knowing Roger," she said, "he'll be looking down and he'll see everyone's thumbs."

— Jake Coyle, http://twitter.com/jake_coyle

'TIRED' ANG LEE PULLS OUT OF FX SERIES:

Ang Lee's Oscar-winning effort for the movie "Life of Pi" has so exhausted him he's decided to pull out of plans to direct the FX series pilot "Tyrant."

In a statement, Ang said: "It is one of the most brilliant ideas for a series that I've seen and one about which I was very excited. However, after spending over four years making and promoting 'Life Of Pi,' I have recently realized that I need some rest."

Ang added: "Because I cannot give 100% to this exciting project at this time, I cannot allow myself to do anything that may affect the potential for this exciting new series. I wish FOX 21 and FX the best with this remarkable project."

The statement was first released to Deadline.com.

Lee's rep, David Lee, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the director was exhausted after spending four-and-a-half years helming the "Pi" production, which won him his second best-director Oscar, and another project.

"He just wants to get some rest. He's just here in Cannes, and he's going back next week and then he will take a break and we will take it from there," the spokesman said.

He added that Lee was still up to his main task at Cannes.

"He's doing very well on that and happy to watch different films," he said.

"Tyrant" is about an American family in a Middle Eastern nation. It is unclear when it will come to the small screen.

— Angela Chen and Nekesa Mumbi Moody (http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi)

CARINA LAU AND KUN CHEN BRING 'BENDS' TO CANNES

Even directors can get a bit star struck.

First-time director Flora Lau, who brought her new movie "Bends" to the Cannes Film Festival, admitted she was a bit intimidated when she first met its stars, Carina Lau and Kun Chen.

"I was very lucky because my producers introduced me to them and at first I was very nervous because I was looking at them and I was like 'Oh my god, they are like these very experienced actors,'" she said in an interview. "But once you start working you're collaborators, so I felt like I could just speak my mind and they were very supportive and it's a great collaboration and I didn't feel as much pressure anymore."

The drama follows affluent housewife Anna and her chauffeur Fai, who is trying to find a way for his wife to get from Shenzhen in mainland China into Hong Kong in order to have their second child. At the same time Anna is struggling to deal with financial troubles after her husband disappears.

Lau said she is glad to help up-and-coming filmmakers.

"Especially for a first time director, I really wanted to help because these are dreams that they have and so I wanted to help with their dreams," she said.

"It's actually helping the next generation of filmmakers, so I wanted to do my service to assist this next generation."

The movie, based around the border between Hong Kong and China, shows the complex relationship between the two regions.

"Even though Hong Kong and China are connected, there's a bit of a culture clash between the two different regions," explained Lau.

"A lot of people in China see Hong Kong as an aspirational kind of city. In China there's the one child policy and so people in China would like more children, so they try their best ways to have a child in Hong Kong, whether that means paying money or doing anything they need to, so there's this kind of relationship that's very tenuous in a way," she said.

Chen, who lives in Beijing, said: "I agree that there's this kind of clash of cultures, but over time it will kind of work itself out."

"Bends" is showing in the "A Certain Regard" selection at the Cannes Film Festival.

— Sid Dixon

VIJAY VERMA'S 'MONSOON' HITS CANNES

Having to work in a chilly rain would meet most people's definition of miserable. But for actor Vijay Verma, who had to deal with such conditions in Amit Kumar's new film "Monsoon Shootout," it was actually fun.

"I am an actor. I want to do everything and the more challenges you throw at me, the more excited I get. I get fearful, but I take it as a challenge and I say, 'OK Vijay, this is an opportunity for you to break one side of you, explore another side of you,' so yeah, it was fun," he said in an interview earlier this week.

"It was really difficult to do the jumps and everything, tying it together in the rain and it was December in India at that time in Bombay, so it was pretty cold, so I was freezing so I would shiver just before the shot but in the shot I would be (stands upright and puts on a brave face)."

The movie revolves around a moment where the main character has a violent criminal in his sights and must decide whether or not to shoot. It explores the consequences of various actions with multiple endings — something the director says was inspired from his own personality.

"The person that I am is just that I find it difficult to make decisions, which is very bad for a director, but I agonize over it and keep thinking of the consequences," explained Kumar.

Tannishtha Chatterjee plays a gangster's abused wife who endures many obstacles — something she feels is a problem for many women in India.

"My character is someone who is very strong and yet she is abused by everybody — from the husband, from the police, from society — so that is a dichotomy that Indian women face all the time," she said.

"Most of my domestic helps are the bread-earning members of their family and yet they are constantly abused by everybody, and yet they are very strong to stand against the abuse as well but they are still abused, so my character is typically that.

"Monsoon Shootout" is showing out of competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival, which draws to a close on Sunday.

— Sid Dixon

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