CANNES, France (AFP) ―Kooky comedy and buffoonery are on the agenda Wednesday as the 65th Cannes Film Festival, with its trademark mix of high cinematic art and Hollywood glitz, kicks off on a light note.
U.S. director Wes Anderson brings his whimsical touch with the opening film “Moonrise Kingdom,” a pre-teen elopement fantasy whose star-packed cast includes Bruce Willis as a small-town cop and Bill Murray as a morose parent.
But as the celebs march up the red carpet for the gala premiere, Sacha Baron Cohen’s zany alter ego General Aladeen, star of “The General,” will try to hijack media attention with a press conference in the nearby Carlton Hotel.
Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt and Robert Pattinson are among the Hollywood royalty who will join high-brow film-makers at the Riviera resort for the next 12 days at the world’s top film showcase.
This year’s bash features druggy roadtrips, soul-searching drama and stylish gangland flicks and sees the return of such Cannes grandees as David Cronenberg, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke.
Star-wise, the 2012 line-up promises to dazzle with Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Kylie Minogue, Kristen Stewart, Pattinson and Pitt just a few of the A-listers expected in town.
The festival will also feature its usual dose of champagne-fuelled parties, high-stakes movie deal-making, and publicity stunts such as British comic Baron Cohen’s armed intervention at the Carlton Hotel.
The “Ali G,” “Borat” and “Bruno” star, who turned up in military regalia at the Oscars and pretended to pour late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s ashes onto an interviewer, has already premiered his movie and is in Cannes simply to cause a stir.
He turned up at the festival in a “mankini” in 2006 to promote “Borat.”
Twenty-two films ― none of which was directed by a woman ― are vying for the coveted Palme d’Or award at the festival’s glitzy gala finale on May 27.
Palme d’Or-winner Nanni Moretti of Italy heads up a nine-strong jury ― which includes actor Ewan McGregor and fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier ― that will pick the winner.
Moretti was due to hold a press conference later Wednesday ahead of the evening opening ceremony.
Two U.S. mavericks are running for Cannes gold: Lee Daniels’s keenly awaited “The Paperboy” stars Kidman opposite John Cusack and Zac Efron in the tale of a reporter investigating a death row case.
The second is Jeff Nichols, whose “Mud,” about two teenage boys who form a pact with a fugitive, was a surprise entry.