Just call them the Last-Minute Wave. Even as the Cannes Film Festival begins its sixth full day today, many directors are frantically rushing to finish their films, or just now taking a breath.

Brazilian director Walter Salles pulled an all-nighter, staying up until 5 a.m. Thursday in Paris subtitling his coming-of-age tale Linha De Passe so it could make its festival debut Saturday. He had finished colour-grading and posting the film just a few days before.

Steven Soderbergh is apparently holed up in a post-production facility finishing work on his two-part, 268-minute Che Guevara movie, which unspools tomorrow. It’s expected to be such a race to the finish that one wag speculated he’ll still be editing the second part while Croisette audiences are watching the first part.

And Wim Wenders? Well, no one really seems to know where the Teutonic helmer is, though he’s apparently in his own mad dash to finish The Palermo Shooting before the movie fires up next Saturday.

“This is one of those years where everybody follows the Wong Kar Wai trend,” said Salles, referring to the Hong Kong director famous for cutting it close. “Unfortunately, we’re not all Wong Kar Wais.”

As Salles points out, there’s always the odd director or two still finishing their film just before things kicks off on the Croisette. But this year is sporting an unusually large number, with the group also including Clint Eastwood, whose Angelina Jolie film, Changeling, still needed enough work that it was the subject of frequent in-and-out reports before the fest.

How close are some cutting it? So close the actual festival screening date can make all the difference.

Fernando Meirelles was pushing hard on Blindness — then learned his was the opening-night film last Wednesday.

“I thought we’d get a slot at the end of the festival and we’d have more time,” he said.

The last-minute work hasn’t resulted in anyone missing their deadlines — yet. But it does raises the question: Since the fest happens the same time every year, why is there so much cramming?

One factor is that announcements and decisions came in later than usual this year, giving the directors a little less notice than usual.

But the biggest reason may be the productions are more complicated, whether it’s cross-border productions like Blindness or movies of epic proportions like Che.

“Directors are taking longer,” one insider said, “because they’re trying to do more with their films.”

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