The world-famous Cannes Film Festival celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, with a line-up of 22 fantastic films, many featuring Hollywood A-listers, competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or. The festival will run until May 27, when the awards ceremony will be held for both the feature film competition and the ten short films competing for the Short Film Palme d’Or.
Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdo” debuted at the festival’s opening ceremony on May 16. The film tells the story of a very young runaway couple, beautifully portrayed by newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman, with a supporting cast of famous figures such as Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Harvey Keitel. Hollywood stars flooded the red carpet for Anderson’s premiere; the long list of attendees included Jane Fonda, Eva Longoria, Alec Baldwin, Freida Pinto, Lana Del Rey, and Diane Kruger.
Though well-received by the audience, Anderson’s film faces strong competition from others such as “Rust and Bone,” by French director Jacques Audiard, starring internationally-renowned Marion Cotillard. Besides “Moonrise Kingdom,” only two other films in competition are produced in the US (Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy” and Jeff Nichols’ “Mud”), but stars such as Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Robert Pattinson, and Kristen Stewart are featured in many of the international productions in Cannes.
This year’s jury is headed by Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti, and comprised of Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass, Diane Kruger, French actress Emmanuelle Devos, British writer/director Andrea Arnold, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Ewan McGregor, Haitian writer and director Raoul Peck, and Alexander Payne, the celebrated Hollywood director of Greek descent.
Though no films from Greece are in contention for the prize, many films produced in Greece, or whose stories feature Greece, are being shown in the Short Film Corner and the Marche du Film, the renowned film market in Cannes in which hand-picked movies are shown to producers and distributors in order to secure further financing or international distribution.
Controversy has already been stirred this year, as critics have decried the complete lack of female directors showcased in the line-up as “sexism,” with the jury denying such allegations. Sean Penn made some inflammatory remarks, attacking the media and other celebrities in an event he held for Haitian Relief, which raised $2 million to help rebuild the devastated country. He criticized the lip-service many prominent figures paid to supporting the Haitian cause after the earthquake in 2010, without any real commitment on their part. As he put it, “It’s not only celebrities that went there to help for a day. It’s the whole world. It’s the entire media. It’s all of you.”
Overall, the whirlwind of activity during the festival is truly a once in a lifetime experience. During the day, members of the film industry hustle from meeting to meeting trying to promote projects, find good prospective investments, and network, while tourists and film devotees flood the streets trying to find a way into screenings or catch a glimpse of a celebrity. At night, the city evokes a type of old-school Hollywood glamour, as stars pose on the red carpet, black-tie-clad attendees stroll down the Riviera from party to party, and paparazzi race down the roads to shoot celebrities stepping into their limousines. This throwback to old Hollywood is also obvious outside the center of the festival, the Palais des Festivals, where a large poster of Marilyn Monroe has been erected, as this year the festival has decided to honor the star in remembrance of the 50th anniversary of her death.
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