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Cannes 2012: Jeff Nichols a Festival Favorite with 'Mud'

With a tale reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn, Stand By Me, and The Goonies, Jeff Nichols pleases with Mud at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The film tells the story of a young teenager, Ellis, and his best friend Neckbone, as they make the discovery of “Mud” (Matthew McConaughey), a riverside fugitive. McConaughey’s character is wanted for a crime committed in an effort to win the affections of Juniper, played by an uncharacteristically somber Reese Witherspoon. And though this plot set-up initially sounds like the perfect storm for one of Nichols’ usual bleak endings, Mud has been described as an uplifting crowd-pleaser. An Arkansas backdrop sets the stage for this coming-of-age drama.

Nichols, at 33, is the youngest North American director to show at Cannes this year. Striving for authenticity in depicting the Southern experience with Mud, he casted Texan newcomer, Tye Sheridan, as Ellis and fellow Southerner Jacob Lofland as Neckbone in the leading roles. Matthew McConaughey, well-known for the charm of his southern accent, is a native Texan. “I wanted to capture a snapshot of a place that probably won’t be there forever,” said Nichols of his choice to shoot the film in rural parts of his birthplace, Arkansas.

Cannes 2012 began on May 16th and will conclude tomorrow, May 27th. Awards will be announced at the closing of the Festival. McConaughey also stars in a second Cannes feature, The Paperboy.

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