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The 69th annual Cannes Film Festival kicks off on the French Riviera

© Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP | Members of the jury on the red carpet as the festival kicks off: (From left) French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis, Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, US actress Kirsten Dunst, Iranian producer Katayoon Shahabi

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-05-11

The 69th Cannes Film Festival opened Wednesday amid heightened security and the premiere of a new Woody Allen film, 1930s Hollywood romance "Cafe Society".

Allen helped kick off the Cannes festivities with some help from the movie's stars, Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg stars as a Bronx native trying to make it in Hollywood, where his uncle (Steve Carell) is a powerful agent. In the process he becomes smitten with his uncle's assistant, played by Stewart.

Ahead of the opening Allen gave an exclusive interview to FRANCE 24 in which he was asked if had any regrets in life.

"I have so many regrets I don't know where to begin," Allen said, chuckling. "I regret dropping out of school when I was younger, I regret ... maybe not going into a different life ... I regret not being a dancer or musician."

"If I had my life to do over ... I would do everything differently," he added.

Allen, a Cannes regular, presented his "Irrational Man" at Cannes last year, although that film played in a less prestigious slot out of competition.

Heightened security

The famed festival comes as France remains under a state of emergency, six months after the Paris terrorist attacks that killed 130 people. Security has been elevated, with increased bag checks and bomb sweeps. Festival president Pierre Lescure says about 500 highly trained security agents will be patrolling Cannes' red-carpeted headquarters, the Palais des Festivals.

But opening day was still a starlit affair. Along with Stewart, "Cafe Society" brought Blake Lively to the Croisette. Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick also serenaded festivalgoers with an acoustic performance of Cindi Lauper's "True Colours" in a promotion for the upcoming DreamWorks Animations release "Trolls" in which they voice the main characters.

The jury that will decide who will win Cannes' prestigious Palme d'Or award was also introduced. Led by "Mad Max" director George Miller, it includes French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis, actor Donald Sutherland, French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin, Italian actor-director Valeria Golino, Iranian producer Katayoon Shahabi, Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes and Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen.

Over the next 10 days, they will screen an especially strong slate of films vying for the Palme, including new releases from Pedro Almodovar, Jim Jarmusch, Asghar Farhadi, Andrea Arnold, Sean Penn and the Dardenne brothers.

"Cafe Society", which opens in theatres this summer, is the latest in a long list of films by Allen to feature an affair between an older man (Carell) and a younger woman (Stewart). Asked if he would ever consider making a movie about a 50-something woman who gets together with a 20-something man, Allen called it "a perfectly valid comic idea".

"I just don't have any material on it, anything really to draw on," said Allen. "I wouldn't hesitate if I had a good story."

Woody Allen and the rest of the crew attend the "Café Society" photocall in Cannes on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. © Mehdi Chebil

Not all was festivity and glamour, however, as just minutes before the press conference a column by Allen's son Ronan Farrow was posted online by The Hollywood Reporter. Farrow reiterated sexual abuse allegations against his father and questioned the film industry's continued embrace of Allen while chastising the press for not asking "the tough questions".

"That kind of silence isn't just wrong. It's dangerous," wrote Farrow. "It sends a message to victims that it's not worth the anguish of coming forward. It sends a message about who we are as a society, what we'll overlook, who we'll ignore, who matters and who doesn't."

No reporters asked Allen about Farrow's column at the press conference. Allen has previously denied the allegations that he molested his daughter Dylan, first leveled in 1992 when she was seven and Allen and actress Mia Farrow were in the midst of a bitter divorce.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2016-05-11

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