Hollywood stars including Bruce Willis and Edward Norton will tomorrow hit the French Riviera, as their film Moonrise Kingdom opens the 65th Cannes Film Festival.
Yet Sacha Baron Cohen could upstage the gala premiere as he plans a stunt in the character of North African dictator General Aladeen, for his film The Dictator.
Six years after he caused a splash by cavorting on the beach in a mankini as Borat, the British comedian has decked the front of the luxury Carlton hotel with flags and images of Aladeen and is expected to stage a press conference in character.
The first official press conference tomorrow is for Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson. The story follows two 12-year-olds who fall in love and run away together into the wilderness on an island off the coast of New England. The Director, writer and eight of the film’s stars will attend.
Anderson has said he felt “honoured” that his film would open the festival. He told The Hollywood Reporter: “As much as it’s about opening night, it’s about being invited to be in competition. That was great news because the whole plan for the movie’s release was based on starting in Cannes”.
The Cannes buzz has been building for the past few days, and yesterday expectant crowds thronged the Croisette, while last minute preparations were still underway at the Grand Palais and the stands lining the 2km stretch of road.
Groups gathered for photographs on the front steps of the Palais under the huge billboard with the official festival poster of Marilyn Monroe, while paparazzi were settling in to reserve the best spot in front of the red carpet.
Film promotions hang from every building backing those in competition, such as On the Road and others that have not yet finished shooting such as Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
The festival, which runs until May 27, will see a string of parties, networking, film screenings, deals and of course the awards. The jury that will pieck the winner of the Palme d’Or from the 22 candidates is headed by Italian director Nanni Moretti, and includes Ewan McGregor.
Yet controversy emerged before the festival had even got underway as a group of prominent film makers wrote an open letter to the organisers condemning them for failing to nominate a single woman for the award. In the past 64 years only one woman, Jane Campion, has secured the prize.
Female directors may be in short supply but stars will be out in force, with Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Marion Cotillard and Kristen Stewart all expected to make an appearance on the red carpet.