Cannes will serve up ‘Vatel’ as fest opener

Ledoyen to host opening ceremony

PARIS — “Vatel,” a $37 million costume drama starring Gerard Depardieu and Uma Thurman, will open the Cannes Intl. Film Festival, organizers announced Thursday.

The Gaumont-financed film — co-scripted by Tom Stoppard, directed by Roland Joffe and produced by Alain Goldman — tells the true tale of France’s first celebrity chef, whose legendary culinary skills were called upon to help his boss, the out-of-favor prince de Conde, ingratiate himself with France’s King Louis XIV.

The burly Depardieu, who has already donned a cook’s apron in a series of TV ads for a brand of pasta, plays Vatel.

As Thursday’s announcement came, Joffe was putting the finishing touches to the film in post-production studios outside Paris.

Cannes programmer Gilles Jacob apparently chose “Vatel” after seeing a working copy with the music yet to be completed.

While most foreign rights for the pic have already been sold, the U.S. rights are still up for grabs.

Ledoyen to host

The opening ceremony May 10 will be hosted by hot young French actress Virginie Ledoyen, who stars opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Beach.”

Also in the lineup is a 12-minute history of the 20th century, Jean-Luc Godard’s “The Origins of the 21st Century.”

But before all the fun, Cannes gets off to a serious start this year with a thought-stirring debate May 9 and 10 on the impact of new technology on the creative aspects of filmmaking. Actress Isabelle Huppert will preside.

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