Brits do their gritty bit at glitzy Cannes

ON THE beachfront, in the blazing sun, Emma Thompson was giving interviews, her American publicist resolutely keeping the troublesome British press at bay. Across the Croisette, at Planet Hollywood, the security men were practising their scowls as they prepared for John Travolta's party later this week.

And in the Palais des Festivals a warning was posted in the entrance hall for those not familiar with the world's most glamorous film festival. "We remind you that the tuxedo, black tie and city shoes are compulsory for Red Carpet events."

The Cannes Film Festival opens today in all its stylish indulgence. But climbing the red- carpeted steps to the Grand Theatre Lumiere with or without his city shoes in a couple of days' time will be the British director Ken Loach, a campaigner for Arthur Scargill's Socialist Party. His film My Name Is Joe is the only all-British movie competing for the Palme d'Or. The film, shot in Glasgow with an all-Glaswegian cast, telling of an unemployed Glaswegian alcoholic who falls in love with a social worker, spearheads a move by the city to challenge the hype and glamour of Cannes with a film about true Brit grit. The Glasgow Film Office will also be selling at the film market in Cannes The Acid House, a film based on short stories by Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting.

But the talk of the opening day today will be Thompson and Travolta playing First Lady and President in Primary Colors, the opening film, which is based none too loosely on the Clintons.

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