Cannes festival opens with quirky comedy and a camel

Wed May 16, 2012 1:17pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and Alexandria Sage

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival kicked off on Wednesday with quirky U.S. comedy "Moonrise Kingdom", Wes Anderson's exploration of childhood and young love centered around two 12-year-olds who fall in love and run away together.

The touching tale, set in 1965 on an island off the coast of New England, was a popular opening movie in the French Riviera resort, drawing laughs and warm applause at a press screening ahead of the official evening world premiere.

During the screening, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was causing chaos on the nearby Croisette promenade, where he rode a camel and adopted the character of his latest alter ego General Aladeen, an outrageously offensive North African dictator.

The publicity stunt, captured by dozens of photographers and cameramen, was typical of the kind of publicity stunts for which Cannes has become famous.

In addition to the 22 movies in the main competition lineup, hundreds more screen in lesser selections and on the huge market place, and getting the media's attention can make or break a movie's prospects.

Anderson, presenting a film for the first time in Cannes, had no such challenge, having been handed the coveted opening competition slot and boasting a cast that includes Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton.

His light-hearted, surreal picture also features two young actors marking their movie debuts -- Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward were just 12 when they auditioned for the parts of Sam and Suzy, respectively.

"I didn't know that I wanted to become an actor until I actually started working on the movie, and that's when I really began to realize that this is what I love doing," Hayward told reporters at a press conference.   Continued...

Actress Eva Longoria arrives on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Moonrise Kingdom", by director Wes Anderson, in competition at the 65th Cannes Film Festival May 16, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard