Canned Cannes: Clouds over fundraiser

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Iceland's volcanic ash has cast a dark cloud over the legendary Cannes Amfar fundraising dinner, one of the swankiest tickets in town and hosted by Sharon Stone. Sadly, Stone will miss the event because of ash cloud fears, according to Screen magazine. Sean Penn, meanwhile, has pulled out of the world premiere of Fair Game – the only American film in the selection for the Palme d'Or, in which he stars. His absence is due to a Senate committee hearing in Washington on Haiti, which he does not want to miss.

Winnie the true?

Jennifer Hudson, who will play the lead in Winnie, a film biopic of the South African activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, spoke to the press at Cannes about the controversial film yesterday, as the film's producers confirmed that despite threats of legal action by the ex-wife of the former South African President Nelson Mandela, its production was to begin in South Africa at the end of May. Producers said they had received a letter from lawyers for Madikizela-Mandela that "contained the threat of an interdict that could stop production of Winnie". It said that "she would like to see the script and approve", but producers decided against that.

Rasputin revived

The figure of Grigori Rasputin has long divided expert opinion. The charismatic Russian monk, who dominated the court of pre-Revolution Russia and became a Svengali figure to the Tsarina, has been described variously as a mystic, visionary, charlatan and mad monk. Now, he is to be captured in all his fullness in a $25m (£17m) film entitled Rasputin – the Healer. The film will focus on the last two years in the life of Rasputin before he was brutally murdered. Alain Goldman, the producer of La Vie en Rose, who has come on board the film, said it would capture Rasputin's complexity: "He was promiscuous, religious, a healer."