'Irreversible' actress also on hand for 'Matrix' preem

PARIS — Italian actress Monica Bellucci will preside as mistress of ceremonies at the 56th Cannes Film Festival, ushering in fest opener “Fanfan la Tulipe” and overseeing the closing of France’s most famous industry event, which unspools May 14-25.

Bellucci, who takes the torch from Virginie Ledoyen, made waves at the Cannes fest last year with her role in the shock pic “Irreversible,” from helmer Gaspar Noe. Pic, which opened in competition, drew outraged responses from critics and auds for its moral ambiguity, in particular for a long and grisly rape scene.

The actress, whose credits include “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra,” “Brotherhood of the Wolf” and “Malena,” will also be in Cannes for the debut of her newest film “Matrix: Reloaded,” the long-awaited sequel to the Keanu Reeves starrer “Matrix.” Pic, helmed by Andy and Larry Wachowski, will be presented out of competition. Also on hand will be co-stars Keanu Reeves, Lambert Wilson, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and producer Joel Silver.

Under the guidance of managing director Veronique Cayla, the fest is making a push this year to bring the star-studded event out of the Palais and into the streets, so that Cannois and other non-industry folk can also participate in the festivities. To that end, Cayla is working toward erecting a Cannes Film Festival Museum, where visitors can relive the fest all year round.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more