Cannes readies for film festival

15th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 14, 2007 (AFP) - The Cannes film festival is to open officially to red-carpet glory on Wednesday, but already this Riviera resort is bustling as final preparations are made to host the global invasion of stars and celluloid.

CANNES, France, May 14, 2007 (AFP) - The Cannes film festival is to open officially to red-carpet glory on Wednesday, but already this Riviera resort is bustling as final preparations are made to host the global invasion of stars and celluloid.

All along the palm-lined beachfront, tourists in shorts were being elbowed aside by sweaty workers frantic to set up billboards, stalls and the other fixtures that for 10 days will turn this town into a glitzy orgy of movie promotion, parties and screenings.

The industry was all the more intense this year because Cannes, the grande dame of the world's movie festivals, turns 60, with all the fanfare that entails.

Organisers have ensured the star-hungry lenses of the thousands of accredited reporters will be treated to a galaxy of celebrities, among them Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon (at the world premiere of their "Ocean's 13").

There will also be Quentin Tarantino and Michael Moore, Martin Scorsese, Jane Fonda and U2 singer Bono.

Cinephiles swayed by the seriously arty side of Cannes will be served the latest offerings from Cannes veterans Gus Van Sant, Wong Kar Wai, Emir Kusturica, Alexandr Sokurov and the Coen brothers.

Much of that heavy-duty line-up is competing for Cannes's Palme d'Or prize, a prestigious trophy that can be awarded either for the purely cinematographic merits of the winner (last year's "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" by Britain's Ken Loach, for example) -- or for the political overtones the jury wishes to convey (Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" in 2004).

This year, the judging panel is led by Stephen Frears, the British director of "The Queen", and includes actresses Maggie Cheung from Hong Kong and Toni Colette from Australia, as well as Turkey's Nobel-prize winning author Orhan Pamuk.

Hardened festival goers were already getting the jump on most of the 23,000 other film business types set to show up later this week.

"I've already seen nine films, and I'll see another nine by Wednesday," said Fadila Chambelland, a movie theatre owner from Cherbourg, western France, who was looking a little tired before the festival's opening day.

Jacky Godard, a fortuitously named French photographer who was back to snap stars for his 18th festival, said he expected a few "surprises" this year, even if he reckoned the number of celebrities would not compare to Cannes's 50th bash.

"That was an extraordinary year, it was just non-stop celebrities every night," he said.

In the town's port, multi-decked yachts belonging to the rich and richer squeezed up against each other, with deckhands polishing the chrome and filling fridges with Champagne.

Richard Gall, captain of one of the luxury vessels, said his owner (an unnamed rich American) was already on board and preparing his first cocktail party for the season.

"There's the actor who played one of the (James) Bond villains who'll be there," he said, before being interrupted by his wife, also the yacht's chef, who needed advice on where to buy foie gras for the evening.

Outside the 'Palais des Festivals', the sprawling concrete complex that serves as the beating heart of the event, the giant billboard marking Cannes's 60th was already in place. Security personnel were politely showing early arrivals where to pick up their badges while stopping the simply curious from entering.

Inside, the place resembled more a carpenter's trade show than a glamorous showcase of the world's movie business. Hydraulic chariots slalomed down corridors, and technicians struggled with squids of cables in a last-minute frenzy of activity.

But Cannes is an old hand at getting ready for its big run, and there was no doubting that, come Wednesday, the lights would be turned on as planned for the planet's pre-eminent cinema showcase.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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