Poster boy for fest

Kossmann takes a candid look at Cannes

Who would imagine creating high art from that purlieu of posers, paparazzi and pic potentates, the Cannes red carpet?

One person who has imagined this is photographer Stephane Kossmann.

For 15 years he took black-and-white shots of stars and producers caught off guard as they ready to walk up the Palais steps.

Some of the photos can now be seen on huge 100-square-meter posters emblazoning buildings around Cannes.

In all 110 more — of Pedro Almodovar, Laurence Fishburne, Jamie Lee Curtis, Holly Hunter, Olivier Martinez — are contained in a just-released book, “Observations sur les marches a Cannes,” produced by Sophie Lepeu and backed by Pentax and Marionnaux Parfumeries.

“You always see the same red carpet photos: the stars posing for the camera and the carpet behind. I wanted to capture the actor’s humanity, their faces and eyes,” says Kossmann, who used a Pentax, a wide aperture and no flash-lights.

Some of the shots stare straight into the star’s soul, such as of Nicole Kidman, eyes down, summoning up strength before the preem of “Dogville”; Sean Penn glaring askance, eyes half shut, at off-shot photographers, as if spoiling for a brawl; or Julianne Moore, bursting with happiness.

“When all is said and done, for many actors, reaching the red carpet is a kind of achievement, and it shows,” says Kossmann.

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