Cannes kicks off with Woody Allen comedy

Tue May 10, 2011 6:51pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Hollywood comes to France Wednesday for the premiere of Woody Allen's romantic comedy "Midnight in Paris," the opening film at this year's Cannes film festival which critics expect to be the best in a long time.

The world's biggest cinema showcase, which ends on May 22, boasts an impressive roll call of major screen stars, revered "auteur" directors and relative newcomers, raising expectations among a 4,000-strong press pack in the glamorous Riviera resort.

Gleaming luxury yachts pack the harbor around the giant cinema complex, five-star hotels are filling up with the rich and famous and Cannes organizers are hoping the 2011 edition lives up to its billing.

"What is exciting this year is ... this clash between established talent and young discoveries, and that is perhaps the heart of the Cannes mission," festival general delegate Thierry Fremaux told Reuters.

But he added a note of caution: "The risk is seeing people make up their minds about the festival after only three days."

Allen's romantic comedy stars Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard as well as French first lady Carla Bruni.

Tuesday, Bruni announced she had canceled an appearance in Cannes because of "personal reasons," feeding widespread rumors in the French press that she may be pregnant.

Nonetheless, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Penelope Cruz, Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson and Johnny Depp are all likely to walk the red carpet, ensuring intense media interest and large crowds of fans catching a glimpse of their screen idols.   Continued...

<p>Luxury yachts are moored in the port of Cannes before the start of the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann</p>