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(photo credit: AP)
The 60th annual Cannes Film Festival opened yesterday as a celebration of celluloid and celebrity, with a lineup including George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Michael Moore and Quentin Tarantino.
Wong Kar-wai - a long-standing Cannes favorite - opened the festival Wednesday with My Blueberry Nights, his first English-language film and the acting debut of singer Norah Jones, who stars as a heartbroken waitress alongside Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz.
The Hong Kong director was joined by several other returning Cannes veterans - four of the 22 directors competing for the coveted Palme d'Or have won the top prize before: Tarantino's gory Death Proof is in the running, as are the Coen brothers' Rio Grande thriller No Country for Old Men, Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park and Promise Me This from Sarajevo-born Emir Kusturica.
Moore will not be taking home a second Palme d'Or to match the one he won for Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004. Sicko, his documentary taking the pulse of the U.S. health care system, is getting its world premiere in an out-of-competition slot. But it has already generated more attention than any film in the festival, thanks to a US Treasury Department investigation into a trip Moore took to Cuba - accompanied by a group of ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers - during the making of the film.
The investigation spurred producers to spirit the negative of the film outside of the United States in case the government tried to seize it, said Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Co. is releasing Sicko.
"It was like a middle-of-the-night operation from a spy novel, moving your negative to another country," he said.
Between now and May 27, the red carpet on Cannes' beachfront Croisette will glitter with celebrities. Clooney is due to promote caper threequel Ocean's Thirteen, Leonardo DiCaprio brings environmental documentary The 11th Hour, and celebrity super couple Brad Pitt and Jolie are expected to be on hand - he for Ocean's Thirteen, she for A Mighty Heart, in which she plays the widow of slain journalist Daniel Pearl.
Among the most-anticipated films: Persepolis, an animated adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel about growing up after Iran's Islamic revolution; The Edge of Heaven by Turkish-German director Fatih Akin; The Man From London by Hungary's Bela Tarr; and Mexican director Carlos Reygadas' Mennonite melodrama Stellet Licht (Silent Light).
"Cannes has always tried to blend high art and blockbuster films," said Mike Goodridge, US editor of trade magazine Screen International. That winning formula - and a glamorous Riviera location - have made it, he said, "the ultimate film festival."
The hardiest film fans had already staked out prime star-spotting turf on Tuesday. (AP)