Can-Can Kicks Off Cannes

nicole kidman, rouge, moulin
A $50 million musical extravaganza featuring two of Hollywood's hottest stars kicked off the Cannes film festival Wednesday, setting a spirited, upbeat tone for the 12-day gathering on the French Riviera.

The much-touted Â"Moulin Rouge,Â" set in a red light district of Paris in the late 19th century and starring Nicole Kidman – the former Mrs. Tom Cruise - and Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, is the first of 19 films in competition for the coveted Palme d'Or.

Â"Moulin Rouge,Â" directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann, is likely to overwhelm the first day, with a glamour-drenched late-night bash on the yacht-crammed harbor including a French can-can revue complete with the film's decors.

Cannes is also a showcase for hundreds of films out of competition to be shown to distributors as well as a marketplace for the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes.

Members of the festival jury, headed by Norwegian director and Bergman muse Liv Ullmann, were settling into their plush hotel suites on the Croisette to rest up and brace for the grueling schedule of film-viewing and daily closed door debates which often lead to heated arguments.

Among the cinematic giants presenting their works at the world's premier film festival are French New Wave figurehead Jean-Luc Godard, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola with a new, longer version of his Vietnam war epic Â"Apocalypse Now.Â"

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