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Australian actress Nicole Kidman (center) poses with French actress Jeanne Balibar (left), British actor Tim Roth (2nd right), and French director Olivier Dahan as they arrive for the Opening Ceremony and the screening of their film ‘Grace of Monaco’ at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 14. (AFP)
‘Grace’ slammed at Cannes ‘It’s fictionalised, not biopic’

CANNES, France, May 15, (Agencies): The world’s biggest film festival opened in Cannes Wednesday with a blast of controversy as critics mercilessly savaged the opening movie about Hollywood-darling-turned-princess Grace of Monaco. The movie’s star Nicole Kidman, Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe, Audrey Tautou and jury head Jane Campion were among the film world luminaries who walked up the 24 steps of the festival hall in the French Riviera resort, under the cool gaze of the late Italian heartthrob Marcello Mastroianni whose giant portrait adorned the facade. Ryan Gosling, David Cronenberg and Sophia Loren are also set to make an appearance later in the 67th Cannes Film Festival, where directorial big guns will go head-to-head in a year of comebacks, swansongs and star debuts. But for film-makers behind the opening movie, the festivities were bittersweet as the Monaco princely family furiously disavowed a film they say bears no resemblance to reality and critics who got a sneak preview made no secret of their contempt.

High
“The cringe-factor is ionospherically high,” The Guardian film maestro Peter Bradshaw wrote. “A fleet of ambulances may have to be stationed outside the Palais to take tuxed audiences to hospital afterwards to have their toes uncurled under general anaesthetic.” On the red carpet, Kidman sparkled in a blue, jewelled strapless dress, smiling for the cameras next to downcast-looking French director Olivier Dahan. In the film, the Australian-born actress portrays an unhappy Grace who sleeps in a separate bedroom to Prince Rainier, even contemplating divorce before rising to the challenge of being a princess and helping her lost husband solve a 1962 political crisis with France. Grace’s children Prince Albert II and his sisters Caroline and Stephanie have publicly rejected a film they say “has been misappropriated for purely commercial purposes”.

“This film should never have existed,” Stephanie of Monaco told local daily Nice Matin. Describing the controversy as “awkward” in a press conference earlier on Wednesday, Kidman sought to reassure the family that the film bore no “malice” towards them or towards Grace and Prince Rainier, played by a chain-smoking Tim Roth. “It’s fictionalised, it’s not a biopic,” she said, echoing what Dahan has previously said.

Tussle
The French director had been locked in a long-standing tussle with US distributor Harvey Weinstein over the final version of the film. Weinstein had reportedly considered dropping the rights to the film altogether, but Dahan said Wednesday an agreement had been reached under which the movie mogul will distribute the French director’s version in the United States. “There is no dispute anymore, everything has been resolved. We’re working together, and I’m happy about it,” Dahan told reporters. According to entertainment industry magazine Variety, Weinstein will acquire the rights for considerably less money than he had originally planned to pay. The opening ceremony in the festival hall’s biggest movie theatre saw the man behind the spellbinding soundtrack to Campion’s 1993 Palme d’Or winner “The Piano” — Michael Nyman — take to the piano to welcome the jury president on stage.

Master of ceremonies Lambert Wilson, a prolific French actor, also had a cheeky dance with Kidman to much applause. Chiara Mastroianni and “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron then formally opened the May 14-25 extravaganza, during which 18 films will compete for the top Palme d’Or prize. The festival will see Canadian heartthrob Gosling present his directorial debut “Lost River”, and films by 25-year-old whizz kid Xavier Dolan, veteran director Jean-Luc Godard and “Men in Black” actor Tommy Lee Jones will also compete. And while two of the films running for the Palme d’Or are by women — Japan’s Naomi Kawase (“Still the Water”) and Italy’s Alice Rohrwacher (“The Wonders”) — Campion bemoaned the industry’s bias against women.

“I think you would have to say that there’s some inherent sexism in the industry,” she told reporters.
“It does feel very undemocratic and women do notice. Time and time again we don’t get our share of representation,” she said, adding that men seemed to “eat all the cake.” On the sidelines of the competitions, muscle men Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger will take a trip to the resort on board a tank to promote their film “The Expendables 3”. Abel Ferrara’s racy “Welcome to New York” in which Gerard Depardieu plays a character much like the disgraced former head of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn will also get a private industry preview during the festival.

And to round off this year’s festivities, US Cannes-lover Quentin Tarantino will showcase “A Fistful of Dollars” at the closing ceremony, in a glitzy celebration of the 50th anniversary of spaghetti westerns. The Associated Press is all over the Cannes Film Festival — from its glitzy premieres to the celeb parties and quirky moments in between. Here’s what reporters have seen and heard:

Blake Lively for the winning look
Blake Lively stunned crowds at the Cannes opening of “Grace of Monaco” in Gucci Premiere, wearing a beautifully constructed shoulder-less, two-tone bordeaux silk chiffon bustier dress. The daring slit down the “Gossip Girl” star’s floor-length fluttery pleated skirt exposed a toned left leg and drew attention away from the fact that the gown’s color slightly clashed with the bright red carpet. Lively is at Cannes as a L’Oreal ambassador and as the better half of actor Ryan Reynolds, whose film “Captives” is competing for the Palme d’Or.

Kidman’s success has come with personal lows
Nicole Kidman has never had to make the choice that Grace Kelly did, quitting acting to begin another life as Princess of Monaco. But she’s rarely found equilibrium in her career and personal life.
“When I won the Oscar, I went home and I didn’t have (love) in my life,” said Kidman, who won best actress for “The Hours” in 2003, two years after she and Tom Cruise were divorced. “That was the most intensely lonely experience in my life.”
Kidman stars as Kelly in “Grace of Monaco,” which premiered Wednesday as the opener of the Cannes Film Festival. In it, she plays Kelly following her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco (Tim Roth) as she adjusts to royal life and severs ties with Hollywood.
Kidman said she drew from her own life to empathize with Kelly, although their husbands are very different.

Award-winning director lambasts sexism in cinema
Jane Campion, the only female director in Cannes Film Festival history to win the Palme d’Or, threw a punch at the male-dominated film industry during Cannes’ inaugural jury press conference.
“There is inherent sexism in the industry. ... It does feel very undemocratic,” said Campion, this year’s jury president, sitting alongside jury members Wednesday including director Sofia Coppola and actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Willem Dafoe.
“Excuse me, gentlemen. It’s not that I resent the male filmmakers ... but there are some things that women are doing that we don’t get to know about ... a more feminine vision,” she said, adding that only 7 percent of 1,800 entries submitted to the Cannes Film Festival were directed by women.

Reaction to ‘Sugarman’ director death:
“I briefly met him last year at the Oscars and it is very shocking. And I am very sad that it just happens like that.” — Gael Garcia Bernal, filmmaker and actor, on the apparent suicide of “Searching for Sugarman” director Malik Bendjelloul.
‘Grace’ movie renews interest in Kelly as fashion icon:
Grace Kelly can bring to mind several things: an Oscar-winning Hollywood actress, a mother, a princess and a Nicole Kidman movie premiering at the Cannes Film Festival.
But to many, she will always be one of the world’s greatest fashion icons.
Kidman’s “Grace of Monaco” is renewing focus on Kelly’s stylish impact. The day the Hitchcock blonde married Monegasque Prince Rainier in April 1956, it forever sealed the links between Monaco, the French Riviera and glamour.
 

In the wedding ceremony, attended by Ava Gardner, Cary Grant and David Niven, Kelly walked the aisle in a hand-sewn ivory dress, made of 300 yards of antique Brussels rose-point lace sent by MGM Studios — shaking up the staid royal family.
The Hermes saddlebag she carried to hide her royal pregnancy bump was named after her. In 1960, Princess Grace became one of the only royals to enter the “International Best Dressed List.” Today, the “Kelly bag” still has one of the longest waiting lists in the world.
Monaco royals leave Riviera as ‘Grace’ arrives:
After lambasting “Grace of Monaco” for inaccurately portraying his late mother Princess Grace, Prince Albert is putting distance between himself and the red carpet premiere of the movie at the Cannes Film Festival.
 

Albert and Princess Charlene are dodging the storm by leaving Monaco, just a stone’s throw from Cannes, and going on an official visit to the French Auvergne region town of Carlades, about 560 kms (nearly 350 miles) away. It’s an old fiefdom of the Monegasque royal family.
Earlier this month, the Prince’s Palace issued yet another communique opposing the Nicole Kidman film — saying that it “cannot under any circumstances be classified as a biopic.”
Razing the Cannes Festival “bunker”?
The eyes of Italian film icon Marcello Mastroianni stare out cooly behind sunglasses on the huge poster across the Cannes Film Festival’s sprawling 1970s-style building. But if the event’s outgoing president had his wish, it would be plastered on a different structure.
 

Gilles Jacob has stirred controversy by calling the red-carpeted, white retro complex — which has been hosting the festival for four dazzling decades — anything but “cool.”
Speaking to local media this week, Jacob called the 1979 behemoth “ill-adapted” and too dated for the needs of the world’s most glamorous film festival, and suggested that the “bunker” be razed.
He proposed a more modern building to secure the prestige of the festival, which has hosted more than 67 years of cinema’s most famous stars.
 

Tarantino will bid Cannes adieu
Quentin Tarantino will close out the Cannes Film Festival with a tribute to Sergio Leone.
Tarantino will present a restored version of Leone’s “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964) at the May 24 closing ceremony. It will screen as part of a 50th anniversary celebration of the Spaghetti Western, a favorite genre of Tarantino’s.
Usually, the Palme d’Or winner is screened at the Cannes closing ceremony, but this year’s schedule has been tweaked because of European elections. The Palme d’Or winner will be shown May 25 instead.
Tarantino won the Palme d’Or for “Pulp Fiction” in 1994.

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