Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremauxformally denied allegations Friday which had been lodged by producer PaoloBranco regarding the absence of his film, Ma Mere, in the officialselection.

Branco, who is no stranger to Cannes havingproduced competition films such as Raoul Ruiz's Le Temps Retrouve and CeJour-la and Manoel de Oliveira's Je Rentre A La Maison, claimed thatthe festival had assured him a midnight screening on May 15 and noted hissurprise at Wednesday's announcement of the official line up which did notinclude Ma Mere.

That film, directed by Christophe Honore, isbased on an novel by Georges Bataille which recounts the way in which a motherbrings her son into a life of debauchery and perversion.

Branco told Agence France Presse that he hadbeen told that there were too many French films in the selection but pointedout, "That's absurd because there are eight American films." He added, "I don'twant to be a victim of an internal conflict between the festival president andits artistic director in a power struggle."

Fremaux, however, said that "no promise had everbeen made to Mr Branco despite numerous telephone calls attempting to make mechange my decision, particularly in the days preceding the selection."

Fremaux contended, "No power struggle betweenGilles Jacob and myself was responsible for my decision." He added that Jacobhad not even seen the film in question.

Branco had hinted that the controversial subjectmatter of the film may have influenced Fremaux's decision to which Fremauxresponded that it was a "fallacious argument for a festival which has beennoted, many times over the past thirty years, for never hesitating to showdisturbing works."

He pointed to Gaspar Noe's 2002 film Irreversibleand 2003's The Brown Bunny by Vincent Gallo as two films which containeddifficult subject matter but which had been presented anyway.

Ma Mere isscheduled to be released on May 19 in France, a date Branco said he chose givenhis certainty that the film would debut in Cannes.