Stars including Johnny Depp descend on Cannes Film Festival opening
A-listers streamed down Cannes’ famous red carpet on Tuesday night as the film festival kicked off its 76th edition.
The iconic film festival began with a premiere of Johnny Depp’s period drama “Jeanne du Barry” amid growing controversy over the actor’s appearance.
Throngs of onlookers shouted “Johnny!” as Depp, wearing purple-hued sunglasses, signed autographs and mingled on the red carpet.
The opening night selection has attracted controversy following Depp’s explosive trial with ex-wife Amber Heard last year.
Jeanne du Barry marks Depp’s return to the big screen for the first time in three years after a High Court judge in London ruled that an article calling Depp a “wife beater” was “substantially true”.
Depp also successfully sued Heard for libel over an article in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse.
Cannes director Thierry Fremaux defended the choice to premiere Depp’s film on Monday, telling reporters that he had paid no attention to his legal battles.
“To tell you the truth, in my life, I only have one rule, it’s the freedom of thinking, the freedom of speech and the freedom to act within a legal framework,” he said.
“If Johnny Depp had been banned from acting in a film, or the film was banned we wouldn’t be here talking about it.”
During the opening ceremony, Michael Douglas received an honorary Palme d’Or, with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones and their daughter, Carys Zeta Douglas, looking on from the audience.
The jury that will decide the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, was also introduced earlier on Tuesday.
Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, a two-time Palme winner who last year won for the social satire The Triangle of Sadness, is presiding over a jury which includes a host of directors from across the globe.
Addressing the ceremony, Östlund said: “If I can choose between an Oscar and a Palme d’Or, it’s an easy choice.
“I would rather have one more (Palme) than have an Oscar.”
Separately, thousands of Hollywood and television writers went on strike this month as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) called its first work stoppage in 15 years after failing to reach an agreement for higher pay from studios such as Walt Disney Co and Netflix.
It is feared the stoppage could potentially drive up prices for finished films at Cannes, the world’s top movie market.
Stars set to hit Cannes’ red carpet in the next week and a half include Natalie Portman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Sean Penn, Alicia Vikander, Scarlett Johansson and the Weeknd.
Cannes, which runs until May 27, is the world's biggest film festival, first conceived in 1939.
It has been held annually since 1946 except in 1948 and 1950, when it was cancelled due to lack of funds.