Cannes film festival opens with plenty of stars, and zombies

The opening ceremony and screening of the film The Dead Don't Die in competition at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, on May 14, 2019.
The opening ceremony and screening of the film The Dead Don't Die in competition at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, on May 14, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The Cannes film festival opened on Tuesday (May 14) with one of the glitziest line-ups in years as Hollywood stars and studios return in strength to the world's biggest movie jamboree.

Spanish star Javier Bardem and French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg declared the 12-day marathon open, before sitting down to watch the first movie - The Dead Don't Die - with its small army of A-list stars led by Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton and pop idol Selena Gomez.

Having watched its thunder stolen in recent years by Venice, which US studios have used as their Oscar launchpad, this time Cannes is putting its much smaller rival back in its place.

Quentin Tarantino brings auteur heft and star power with the premiere of his epic Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, a quarter of a century after he lifted the Palme d'Or - Cannes top prize - for Pulp Fiction.

The panorama of Charles Manson-era Los Angeles stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a television westerns star and Brad Pitt as his stunt double. Margot Robbie also appears as actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered by the cult leader's followers.

Almost as big a coup was persuading Elton John to launch his warts-and-all musical biopic Rocketman on the Croisette out of competition, with festival director Thierry Fremaux hinting that the singer will perform at the premiere.

The screening on Thursday (May 16) is the first big blockbuster event at the festival, where Sylvester Stallone will also unveil a teaser for Rambo V: Last Blood.


Another headline-grabber, soccer legend Diego Maradona, is sure to create a stir when he turns up for a documentary on his roller-coaster career by the maker of Oscar-winning Amy.

The festival has sparked controversy by giving a prize to veteran French star Alain Delon, with the Women And Hollywood group saying honouring a man who has admitted to hitting women is not right.

Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who heads a jury that will pick the Palme d'Or winner, struck a political note on Tuesday by condemning populist leaders but without naming names.

"The world is melting and these guys are ruling with rage and anger and lies and making people believe that they are facts," he told reporters.

"This (is a) dangerous thing we are returning to, to 1939," he added, referring to World War II. "We know how this story ends if we keep with this rhetoric."