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68th Cannes Film Festival kicks off

Updated: 05 14 , 2015 09:47
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CANNES, France -- The 68th Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes) officially kicked off Wednesday evening in the southern French sea resort of Cannes.

The opening ceremony, hosted by French actor Lambert Wilson, took place in the Palace of the Festival, followed by the red carpet where the jury and the crew of the opening film were presented to the grand public.

This year's opening film is the French movie La Tete Haute (Standing Tall) by French actress, film director and screenwriter Emmanuelle Bercot.

This is the second time in Cannes Film Festival's history that the opening film is directed by a woman.

The movie is about the life journey of a boy called Malony, from age six to 18, through the juvenile justice system, and the tireless efforts of a judge and a counselor to save him.

"Emmanuelle Bercot's film makes important statements about contemporary society, in keeping with modern cinema. It focusses on universal social issues, making it a perfect fit for the global audience at Cannes," said Thierry Frémaux, director of the festival.

"It's not just a question of the relationship between young people and adults, it goes beyond that," said French actress Catherine Deneuve, who plays the leading female role in La Tete Haute, during the press conference of La Tete Haute (Standing Tall) earlier Wednesday afternoon.

For her, choosing this film for the opening of the festival is a way for the festival to "respond to a difficulty in Europe, particularly in France."

"It is important for an international film festival like Cannes to open with this film which is certainly not just a sort of blockbuster type film," Deneuve added.

Asked about what stuck her most during the preparation of the film, French actress and director Emmanuelle Bercot said one of strong memories was "the dedication, faith, and patience of the staff who work with these teenagers, trying to educate them, calm them, focus them and balance them."

The jury of the main competition, composed of nine people, is headed by American brothers Joel and Ethan Coen who won Palme d'Or in 1991. French actress Sophie Marceau and American actor Jake Gyllenhaal are among members of the jury.

Asked about if he, as a jury member, would watch movies in a different way, Joel Coen said he will "try to watch (movies) simply as an audience member, and somebody who isn't involved in making movies, but I think you just have to sort of give yourself up over the emotional experience of watching the movie."

"With the jury in general, it's that we are not exactly critics here, it's not about we hate this, this is what somebody did that we can't stand, as opposed to one of the things that we actually really like and we wanna celebrate," said Joel Coen.

A total of 19 films, including three Asian films, were selected in April to compete for the top prize Palme d'Or of this annual film event.

The Chinese mainland director, screenwriter and producer Jia Zhangke, who was a member the jury in last year's festival, will have his new movie Shan He Gu Ren compete for the Palme d'Or. Nie Yinniang (the Assassin) from Taiwan by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, and Umimachi Diary from Japan by Kore-Eda Hirokazu were also selected to be in the main competition.

Carol starring Kate Blanchett, Sea of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts, La Giovinezza starring Michael Caine and Jane Fonda are also listed in the line-up.

Natalie Portman's directing debut A Tale Of Love And Darkness will participate at the Special Screening section, while Woody Allen's Irrational Man will be in the Out of Competition section.

The 68th Festival de Cannes (Cannes Film Festival) runs from May 13 to 24 in Cannes. The closing film will be La Glace et Le Ciel (Ice and the Sky) directed by Luc Jacquet.