LONDON (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival brings its usual mix of obscure movie makers and Hollywood royalty this year, though for all the glamour and fun, financial turmoil will take some of the gloss off the world's top cinema showcase.
And following a last-minute clean-up operation in the French Riviera resort due to storms last week, organizers will now be fretting over travel disruptions as flights over other parts of Europe have again been grounded by volcanic ash.
The festival opens on Wednesday with the premiere of "Robin Hood" starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, a typically grandiose opening to an event that also champions gritty films from every corner of the globe made on shoestring budgets.
For the following 11 days, the famous and not-so-famous will walk and watch the red carpet, test their stamina at party after party, cram into darkened screening rooms and scour the giant film market for bargains.
While studio bosses in the glitzy resort may ponder the state of the broader economy and what it means for film financing, some of the biggest names in the business see Cannes as a vital cog in the marketing machine.
"Cannes is good for the film," said director Oliver Stone, who brings his sequel to the 1987 financial drama "Wall Street" to the festival.
"It's a big break because we would have come out and just been another film in this crazed (movie) mainstream," he told Reuters in an interview. "It's nice to have the honor and have that platform."
"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," in which Michael Douglas reprises his role as ruthless corporate raider Gordon Gekko, will be among the most topical at the 2010 festival, focusing on corruption and greed at the world's biggest banks.
But, like Ridley Scott's Robin Hood and Woody Allen's latest offering "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," it is not one of 18 films in competition which are eligible for prizes decided by a jury headed by director Tim Burton.
Established and up-and-coming names in film making rub shoulders in the main lineup, which pits the likes of Iranian Abbas Kiarostami and Britain's Mike Leigh against home hopes Mathieu Amalric and Xavier Beauvois.
Among the most eagerly anticipated titles are sole U.S. entry "Fair Game," based on the true story of CIA agent Valerie Plame and starring Sean Penn, and "Burned by the Sun 2," the sequel to Nikita Mikhalkov's acclaimed 1994 picture about the terror of Stalinist repression.
Franco-Algerian film maker Rachid Bouchareb presents "Outside the Law," tackling Algeria's struggle for independence from France, and Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Biutiful" stars Oscar winner Javier Bardem.
Asia is represented by films from Thailand, Japan, China and South Korea, while Chad and Ukraine are also in contention for the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture which last year went to Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon."
Underlining the pulling power of Cannes, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones is expected to be in town for documentary "Stones in Exile" about the recording of the band's seminal album "Exile on Main Street" which is due for re-release this month.
Critics are generally impressed with the 2010 lineup, although several wonder if it can live up to the buzz generated by last year's edition, including the widely praised The White Ribbon, "A Prophet" and "Up," and Lars Von Trier's controversial and ultra-violent "Antichrist."
The world's leading international news agencies, including Reuters, have lifted a threat to boycott the event over media rights after reaching an agreement with the festival.
Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Maria Golovnina