The red carpet has been rolled out at Cannes as the French Riviera city saw the opening of the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. This year’s festival kicked off on May 16 and will continue till May 27, promising splashy blockbusters, films from up-and-coming talent and also possible encounters with the global film industry’s creme-de-la-creme strutting the grounds around the Palais des Festivals’ entrance.

This year’s highlight for film buffs at the festival is the French-language film Jeanne du Barry, which casts Johnny Depp as King Louis XV, his first major role since a highly publicized trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard.

Saturday will see Martin Scorsese present his latest epic, “Killers of the Flower Moon”, alongside stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. That day also sees Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in indie favourite Todd Haynes’s “May December”. It is among 21 films competing for the top prize Palme d’Or, by a record seven women directors.

Fremaux said increasing women’s representation at the festival was a “fundamental question” but “I refuse congratulations, it is an evolution. We don’t look at the gender, we select movies.” Several Palme laureates are back in competition, including Britain’s two-time winner Ken Loach, Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda and Germany’s Wim Wenders. The jury is led by last year’s winner, Sweden’s Ruben Ostlund (“Triangle of Sadness”), and also includes Hollywood stars Brie Larson and Paul Dano. Around a thousand police and security guards are in place for the festival, amid fears of protests linked to President Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular pension reforms, with the CGT union even threatening to cut power.


‘A lot of worries’

Depp’s “Jeanne du Barry” has reportedly yet to secure US distribution. His dialogue in the film is kept to short phrases that help disguise his American accent. Maiwenn, the French star who directs and plays the lead role, admitted she was worried about the impact of his legal woes. “The film was shot last summer and he was coming out of his second trial,” Maiwenn, who goes by a single name, told AFP last week. “I had a lot of worries. I was wondering: ‘what will his image become?’” she said. But she faces her own controversies. In March, a well-known French journalist, Edwy Plenel of Mediapart, lodged a criminal complaint against Maiwenn, accusing her of approaching him in a restaurant, grabbing him by the hair and spitting in his face.

She refused to discuss the “ongoing case” with AFP, but admitted the assault in an interview on French TV, without going into details. Depp was axed from Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts” following Heard’s abuse allegations, but he is a long way from being “cancelled”. He has secured a record $20 million deal to remain the face of Dior fragrance, according to Variety last week. He is also set to direct Al Pacino in a biopic of artist Amedeo Modigliani later this year.—AFP