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The Cannes Film Festival gears up for 70th year opening ceremony
The excitement is mounting. Even if security has been tightened under France's emergency laws, with a greater number of and more thorough checks in some sectors close to the Festival Palace.
Undeterred, the unofficial photographers have squeezed their stepladders in rows in a specially cordoned off space in front of Palace. From there they will may have a small chance of glimpsing stars as they climb the red-carpeted stairs on Tuesday evening, 17th May.
The crowds of onlookers who gather outside this evening will be straining to see even the hem of the talking-piece evening dresses of actresses like Nicole Kidman, who is appearing no less than FOUR times in the Festival this year, twice in competition : American Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled and Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos' The Killing of a Sacred Deer, once in a film out of competition, James Cameron Mitchell's How to Talk to Girls at Parties and also in a special screening section devoted to TV in New Zealander Jane Campion's series, The Top of the Lake.
The limelight is shared on the red carpeted stairs at Cannes. Tonight Italian bellezza, Monica Belluci, who is the mistress of the opening and closing ceremony will be stepping up, and every evening the nine members of the Golden Palm jury will led by Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar.
Almodovar in his important role as chair, and known for his films where woman nearly always play the main roles, spoke with a different kind of sensitivity when asked a gender equality question, something always popular in Cannes.
"The most important thing is not whether the films are directed by a man or a woman, or what degree of femininity or of homosexuality they contain. What's important here are the films themselves. I hope that these issues will feature in them."
It's interesting to hear how the jury members approach their work which can make or break a movie. Among them US actor Will Smith, known for his ears and his sense of humour. He also spoke with particular humility.
"I was born and brought up in West Philadelphia. That's very far away from here, from Cannes... I'm really excited about what I can learn here in interesting discussions... I'm here for selfish reasons."
One particular issue is causing conflict at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Online film firm Netflix is apparently playing the baddy. Two films selected for the palm competition have been bought by the firm which enables people to see films on their computer screens as soon as they are released.
French law demands that films release first in the cinema halls to be seen on the big screen for which they are made. They become available for online viewing three years later. There's a deadlock because the web firm says the two films, one Korean on US, will not screen in French cinemas.
2017 jury chief Almodovar said in the jury press conference that it would be an enormous paradox if the Golden Palm went to a film that could not be seen in cinemas. So now, the debate in Cannes is whether that means these two movies are out of the race.
Opening film on the big screen in synch with Festival start
French director Arnaud Desplechin gets the honour of having his film open the festival, but he's deprived of a chance of winning the special 70th anniversary Cannes Film Festival 2017 Palm award. This year it will possibly be even more coveted , and not just for it's distribution value and prestige: the special palm-leaf is gold as usual but is also studded with diamonds.
Desplechin's latest work called Ismael's Ghosts stars top French actors: his faithful Mathieu Amal-ric, young rising star Louis Garrel, along with Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
It's a love triangle, laced with Desplechin's own love of spy stories, dreams, nightmares, and his obvious concern over illusion and reality. Cotillard the wife, who returns from the dead as it were, does a little dance for Gainsbourg, the new lover that may go down in French cinema history.
It would be akin to the well-remembered dance scene in Quentin Tarantino's 1993 Pulp Fiction performed by John Travolta and this year's Cannes president of the Un Certain regard section jury, Uma Thurman. Desplechin lets his imagination run quite wild in this film.
In keeping with recent tradition, Ismael's Ghosts which is set in Paris and on the French coast releases in France on today, Wednesday, so those who still pack the halls in France will have a real-time taste of the Cannes Film Festival.
The first premieres of all 19 films in competition are on the big screens at the Palais des Festivals as of Thursday. For two of them, it may be the only chance anyone will get.