CANNES, FRANCE (REUTERS, AFP) - The Cannes Film Festival rolled out the red carpet on Tuesday (May 17) as the Mediterranean port city filled up with cinema stars, festivalgoers and oglers for the 75th anniversary event, bringing buzz and glamour back to the resort destination.
The world's biggest film festival runs from May 17 to 28, back to its traditional calendar following two years of pandemic disruptions.
It opened on Tuesday with the screening of Michel Hazanavicius's zombie film, Final Cut, and will also feature heavy hitters like Tom Cruise's Top Gun: Maverick - bringing Cruise to the festival for the first time in 30 years - and Australian film-maker Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic.
During the opening ceremony, American actor Forest Whitaker received the festival's Honorary Palme D'Or for lifetime achievement. The actor's production company is showing For the Sake of Peace, a documentary on the war in South Sudan.
With the war in Ukraine hanging over the event, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the gala opening ceremony as a surprise guest by video link from Kyiv. He asked for the cinema world's solidarity with his people in the face of the Russian invasion.
"In the end, hatred will disappear and dictators will die," he told the rapt audience, which gave him a standing ovation.
The festival's jury - includes actors and film-makers such as Rebecca Hall, Noomi Rapace, Deepika Padukone and Asghar Farhadi - also spoke out about the role of cinema during times of violence.
"I would say films are even more important than ever... There's a lot of teenagers and kids in Russia, for example, today that... are kind of as alien to what's going on as we are. So I think, you know, films can travel and communicate," said jury member Rapace during a press conference.
Iranian film-maker Farhadi, 50, also spoke for the first time about plagiarism claims around his 2021 film A Hero.
One of his former film students has accused him of stealing the idea for A Hero - which was the winner of the Grand Prix at 2021's Cannes Film Festival - from her 2018 documentary All Winners, All Losers.
"This documentary was something I saw at a workshop. I talked about it with the student. But much later on, I created the film A Hero. And it cannot be viewed as a way of plagiarising...
"What we do is to make fiction films, and what I did in my film A Hero is not related to the work done in the workshop I just referred to," said Farhadi, in a statement posted by trade publication Variety.