The Great Gatsby to open Cannes Film Festival 2013

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In pictures: Palme d'Or competition contenders

Baz Luhrmann's 3D extravaganza The Great Gatsby, one of the year's most eagerly anticipated films, will open the Cannes Film Festival tonight.

The spectacular, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, heralds the start of the annual celebration which attracts some of the biggest names in movie making to the south of France.

French actress Audrey Tautou will host the opening ceremony of the 66th festival, while Steven Spielberg is presiding over the jury that will choose the winner of the prestigious Palme d'Or award.

Click here or on "View Images" for Palme d'Or competition contenders in pictures

Speaking about the event, DiCaprio said: "Every time I go to Cannes, it feels like I'm entering the helicopter scene in La Dolce Vita. It's an insane experience.

"The entire town is turned into a red carpet. Every hotel is a premiere. But at the same time, it is the mecca for the world to celebrate film-making and bold film-making."

Several films expected to have a big presence when Oscars season comes around will premiere at Cannes, including Ryan Gosling's second collaboration with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, the Bangkok noir Only God Forgives, which promises to be one of the most thrillingly violent films at the festival.

Much of the world's attention will be focused on the 20 films competing for the prestigious Palme d'Or.

Many previous winners are returning to Cannes, including the Coen brothers, Roman Polanski and Steven Soderbergh.

Joel and Ethan Coen will debut Inside Llewyn Davis, a 1960s period film about the Greenwich Village folk scene, while Polanski will premiere Venus In Fur, a French-language adaptation of the David Ives play.

Soderbergh's Behind The Candelabra will be given a screening, with Michael Douglas playing flamboyant pianist Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, Scott Thorson.

Also screening in competition is Swedish director Jim Jarmusch's hotly anticipated Only Lovers Left Alive, a vampire love story starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska,

Sofia Coppola will be presenting her latest offering, The Bling Ring, about a group of star-worshipping California teenagers who raid celebrity homes, starring Harry Potter's Emma Watson.

The festival will close with Zulu, starring Forrest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom, about two policeman investigating a crime in apartheid-era South Africa.

PA

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