You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Stars align at Cannes opening night

Fest opens to biz buzz, fair skies, glitz

If opening nights set the tone for an entire fest, the omens are good for the 64th Cannes.

After a just-OK bow last year, Wednesday’s kickoff offered warm weather, star power and, most important, positive buzz about the artistic and financial signs of a rebound at the 10-day event.

Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (to be released in America via Sony Pictures Classics) was a good choice, since it’s an auteur film that mixes Gallic and U.S. sensibilities.

The warm applause for Allen, as well as jury prexy Robert De Niro, followed by jury members Jude Law, Uma Thurman and Olivier Assayas, among others, also presaged the constellation of stars at this year’s edition, with three of the world’s biggest movie stars skedded to appear over the next few days: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, with reports of Leonardo Di Caprio’s pending arrival, as well as Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Duran Duran performing at various fetes here.

As usual, fest president Gilles Jacob and artistic director Thierry Fremaux stood at the top of the Palais steps Wednesday greeting guests, who also included French helmers Claude Lelouch and Joann Sfar, Gallic thesps Lambert Wilson and Julie Gayet, France’s culture minister Frederic Mitterrand, Sony Pictures Classic’s toppers Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, Faye Dunaway, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, Salma Hayek, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Cannes market topper Jerome Paillard and cinefondation’s director Georges Goldenstern.

Despite rumors, French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni (who appears in the Allen film) were no-shows.

But Bruni’s castmates, notably Adrien Brody, Lea Seydoux, Rachel McAdams, Owen Wilson and Michael Sheen walked the red carpet, adding to the evening’s star-wattage.

The global economic crisis had been felt at the last two editions, with more cautious deals. This year, attendees at the film market, which kicks off Thursday, were upbeat about the offerings and the potential healthy deals thanks to more money available than in past years (Cannes Daily Variety, issue 1).

Artistically, there is optimism as well. In announcing last year’s less-than-scintillating lineup, Fremaux hinted that 2011 would be better.

This year features a particularly strong lineup of directors, including Allen, Pedro Almodovar, the Dardenne brothers, Aki Kaurismaki, Nanni Moretti, Gus van Sant, Lars von Trier and Terrence Malick, whose “The Tree of Life” is making its long-awaited world bow Monday, after being rumored as a possibility at various fests for nearly two years.

And Cannes has increasingly become a global press junket, tapping into the thousands of journos from around the world to tubthump “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Kung Fu Panda 2,” “Puss in Boots” and “Super 8,” for example.

The opening night ceremony included a screening of Georges Melies’ restored 1902 “Le Voyage Dans la Lune,” and an honorary Palme d’Or to Bernardo Bertolucci. It was followed by a dinner for select aud members at l’Agora.

The fest launch was in sharp contrast to last year, when director Ridley Scott bowed out from the launch of “Robin Hood,” which was politely received and guests were rained on as they exited the Palais.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content