Reuters - The Cannes film festival rolled out its red carpet with an old-style mix of humour and emotion on Wednesday, as the animated comedy “Up” lifted the mood at the start of cinema’s biggest and glitziest gathering.
The 10th feature by Disney’s Pixar studio was warmly applauded at its press screening, where journalists donned special goggles for its 3D effects and it should get a similar welcome at the formal opening ceremony in the evening.
The 62nd edition of the festival is expected to feature fewer of the celebrity driven events that have been its hallmark as studios cut budgets in the recession but the glamour of Cannes remains a powerful magnet for the industry.
“The thing I’m looking forward to most is seeing all those people in their tuxedos and gowns looking at this movie in their 3D glasses,” “Up” producer and Pixar co-founder John Lasseter joked at a news conference.
The dazzling three dimensional special effects add a striking new dimension to the first animated feature to open the Cannes festival but the filmmakers insisted that they had focused primarily on telling a story.
“I knew this movie was going to be very unusual but also loaded with heart,” said Lasseter.
The tale of a gruff old widower and a zealous boy scout who float off to South America in a house borne aloft by a coloured balloons, “Up” looks back unashamedly to the good humoured and sentimental style of filmmakers like Frank Capra.
“We were trying to evoke a lot of those films from the ‘40s and ‘50s,” said director Pete Docter, whose earlier films include the Oscar-nominated “Monsters, Inc.”
“Up”, which is not in competition, added a lighter note at a time when early talk has focused on cancellations and cutbacks and where the main lineup was dubbed by trade paper Variety the “biggest heavyweight auteur smackdown in recent years”.
There are several familiar faces from previous Cannes festivals in the 20-strong competition list, including several past winners of the coveted Palme d’Or award, from Quentin Tarantino to Ken Loach and New Zealand’s Jane Campion.
Isabelle Huppert, the French actress who heads the jury, said she was not looking to repeat the overtly political agenda set by last year’s president Sean Penn and she repeated the customary assurances that competition was not the main point.
“I don’t think we are here to judge, we are here to love films,” she told a news conference.
The competition is likely to be fierce however.
Tarantino, back with his World War Two movie “Inglourious Basterds” with Brad Pitt, has attracted much of the early buzz.
But there are plenty of other stars including Penelope Cruz who stars in Pedro Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces” or former France and Manchester United soccer star Eric Cantona who appears as himself in Loach’s “Looking for Eric”.
Campion brings “Bright Star” based on the romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, while Lars von Trier is presenting a horror movie called “Antichrist”.
Other highlights include Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock” about the rock festival and Lou Ye’s “Spring Fever”, made in defiance of a five-year ban from film making imposed by China for his previous movie “Summer Palace”, also in Cannes.
Out of competition, Terry Gilliam has perhaps the biggest movie in Cannes. “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is the late Australian actor Heath Ledger’s final screen role, which had to be completed by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law.