Woody Allen tops bill at star-studded Cannes festival

Wed May 11, 2016 6:55am EDT
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By Julien Pretot

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The 69th Cannes Film Festival has what it takes to be a vintage edition, with Woody Allen leading a pack of celebrated filmmakers presenting their movies to the French Riviera crowds.

The May 11-22 cinema extravaganza opens on Wednesday with Allen's "Cafe Society", featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in a story of a young man who arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry.

"When we will be old we will tell our children you know I was living at a time when Woody Allen's films were coming out, and I think he's one of the greatest auteurs," festival director Thierry Fremaux told Reuters.

Although he has never been in competition, Allen is a Cannes favorite. This year will be the third time he has opened the festival, and several other familiar faces will be presenting their films in the main competition.

"This year the competition is mostly Cannes favorites, Cannes darlings," Variety critic Jay Weissberg told Reuters.

"Fremaux is someone who likes to reward his friends, he's somebody who likes to have the people he knows come back year after year after year."

The Dardenne brothers, who present "The Unknown Girl", have won the festival's highest distinction, the Palme d'Or, twice.

Ken Loach, in Cannes with "I, Daniel Blake" has won it once, while Bruno Dumont; Jim Jarmusch, who is showing two films including a documentary on Iggy Pop; Park Chan-wook; and Pedro Almodovar have all previously scooped other honors.   Continued...

Director Woody Allen (C), cast members Blake Lively (R) and Kristen Stewart pose during a photocall for the film "Cafe Society" out of competition, before the opening of the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard