Cannes Film Festival 2013: Reporter's diary
- 21 May 2013
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Movers, shakers, players and blaggers from the global film industry have descended on the French Riviera for the Cannes Film Festival.
The BBC's Kev Geoghegan reports on the buzz films and the behind-the-scenes deals at the festival.
TUESDAY 21 MAY 14:00 LOCAL TIME (12:00 GMT)
Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover - as implausible a pitch as it sounds - turns out as spot-on casting for Steven Soderbergh's new film Behind the Candelabra.
Douglas gives a mesmerising performance as the entertainer, exuding the charm and charisma of one of America's best-loved entertainers, masking a desperately unhappy, lonely man - who had to hide his sexuality in plain view.
For it was only after his death from an Aids-related illness that America realised he was gay.
In Damon, as perhaps the love of Liberace's life, Scott Thorson, we see a handsome young man initially seduced by the life of a celebrity's lover, reduced to a drug-addicted male Barbie doll.
In keeping with the great man's personal tastes, the beautifully shot film is also wildly garish, all gold and diamante and pink fur and brings to mind Martin Scorsese's Las Vegas-set follow up to Goodfellas - Casino.
Rob Lowe has a hilarious cameo as a sinister plastic surgeon, whose face is pulled so taut his gives him a rictus grin and almond shaped eyes. Dan Ackroyd is also solid as Liberace's manager.
If this is indeed Soderbergh's swansong, then he goes out on a high but what a major pity it will be.
Surely the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis has found its first major challenger for the Palme d'Or.
While the film is actually fairly conventional in its biopic style of storytelling, it could be in contention through the performance alone of Douglas.
From the extreme style of one man, to one of the most stylish men in any of the main films at this year's Cannes, in the Italian film La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty).
In Paulo Sorrentino's film, Toni Servillo is Jep, a picture of sartorial elegance. A celebrated magazine writer who lives in a beautiful apartment - with an impressively huge terrace - overlooking the Coliseum.
Jep is the undisputed king of Rome's social scene, with the power to make or break any kind of soiree, he is invited to exclusive shows and dines with princesses and popes.
Yet he is weary of the beauty around him. The author of just one book in his youth, he asks the question whether the great beauty around him inspires artists or destroys them.
Servillo is charm personified in the film by director Sorrentino, whose last film at Cannes starred Sean Penn as a wild-haired Robert Smith-style rock recluse.
The camera-work is stunning, between raucous parties. This is a Rome - not of traffic and bustle, but one of empty streets where Jep often walks until the sun rises.
The best actor award is now a three-horse race, being led by Servillo, Douglas and the Coen Brothers' find of the year - Oscar Isaacs.
For the final two films of my week in Cannes, I'm pleased to know that I'm leaving on a high.
MONDAY 20 MAY 23:30 LOCAL TIME (21:30 GMT)
US actor James Franco's most recent directorial effort, an adaptation of William Faulkner's stream of consciousness novel As I Lay Dying, had its Cannes screening earlier today and reviews have so far been largely positive, if not particularly effusive.
The tale is of an early 20th Century dirt-poor southern US family's attempts to bury their dead mother. Franco also steps from behind the camera to play Darl Bundren, one of three sons of father Anse Bundren.
Though Franco clearly has an eye for a shot, and his use of the split screen is sometimes effective in suggesting the multi-narrative structure of the novel, the script - co-written by the actor - feels leaden.
It is not helped by the often mumbled dialogue. Tim Blake Nelson, as the slack-jawed family patriarch, sports a hideous set of prosthetic gums that for the first half of the film render him almost completely incomprehensible.
Some dialogue sounded as though it had been lifted verbatim from the book. Delivered by several characters straight to the camera, it just felt lazy.
There was some enthusiastic applause for the film, but dozens of people left the cinema during its two-hour running time.
If the film is a failure, it is at least an admirable one.
MONDAY 20 MAY 12:30 LOCAL TIME (10:30 GMT)
Indian cinema has been celebrated at a screening of a new film Bombay Talkies, which marks 100 years of Bollywood.
The anthology film consists of four short films, directed by Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar.
Last year, Kashyap brought his six-hour epic The Gangs of Wasseypur to the festival and he has returned on the crest of a wave of Indian directors with his follow-up film, the crime thriller Ugly.
Kashyap is also producer on another Indian film doing the rounds at Cannes and garnering some favourable reviews in the process - the cop film Monsoon Shootout, which is being screened out of competition.
Adi is a young idealistic police officer, put under the charge of a hard-bitten veteran of the Mumbai police, whose method of shoot first, don't ask questions, throws the young officer into turmoil.
During a hunt for a brutal killer working for the local crime baron, Adi gives chase to the main suspect and corners him in a narrow alley.
Directed by Amit Kumar, a beautifully shot scene, reticent of classic John Woo, slows the pace down as the two men face off. We see raindrops explode on skin and dogs mouths gaping.
Adi's hesitation in pulling the trigger sets off in motion a string of events.
The film then moves into Sliding Doors territory and an alternative series of events are played out had the scene in the alley ended differently.
Meanwhile, the festival has screened what could be the first genuinely divisive film in competition.
Wara No Tate, or Shield of Straw, by Japanese director Takashi Miike, was shown on the biggest of the screens earlier today.
It is a thrill-a-minute blockbuster which sees a team of security officers attempt to safely move the suspect in a child murder case to Tokyo, in the face of a billion yen reward offered for his head, by the child's tycoon grandfather.
As one of the characters helpfully pointed out, the bounty "makes 125 million people a potential threat".
The film is so outrageously over-the-top and stylised, it is hard not to love. Never have the lines, "What's wrong?"… "Our flight's been cancelled", been delivered with such dramatic tension.
A clear portion of the audience disagreed, however, and there were definitely some boos and jeers mixed in with the applause.
It's always fun when people here disagree about films.
SUNDAY 19 MAY 20:46 LOCAL TIME (18:46 GMT)
Music is a running theme at this year's Cannes.
This morning the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, were joined on stage by Justin Timberlake, Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan and Oscar Isaac - their leading man from their latest film Inside Llewyn Davis, already a huge hit at Cannes.
The film follows Davis as he navigates New York's folk scene of the 1960s.
Isaac has been getting some serious acclaim for his role, which includes performing several folk songs, but he modestly insists his performance came from "working together every day in very practical ways".
Though Bob Dylan isn't mentioned by name throughout the film, his shadow looms large over the picture.
Producer Ethan admitted: "I feel uncomfortable even talking about Bob Dylan in the context of this movie because he's the elephant in the room."
Justin Timberlake sports a wonderful folky beard and some fine knitwear for his role as one half of the very earnest folk duo Jim and Joan, alongside Mulligan.
He had today's press conference in stitches as he recounted coming up with Jim's look: "We found this picture of Paul Clayton who was an Irish folk singer and we thought it was appropriate for Jim.
"You know I enjoy looking ridiculous in everyday life so that was not hard for me. I actually liked that beard."
It may sound like an unusual pairing but David Lynch and Duran Duran also have a film in Cannes. The director of such movies as Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart has directed a concert film of the British band.
And the festival has also been showing the semi-biopic Greetings from Tim Buckley - a chronicle of the days leading up to Jeff Buckley's performance at his father's tribute concert in 1991.
The two leads, Ben Rosenfield as Tim in flashback and Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley as Jeff, look hauntingly like the singers.
Both men died young, the father of a drug overdose at the age of 29 and the son drowning at 30.
The music is stunning and Badgley in particular gives an incredible vocal performance.
There isn't much of a storyline and the drama suffers a little because of that. It is perhaps more for fans of the Buckleys and there are, at least, plenty in both camps.
SUNDAY 19 MAY 11:00 LOCAL TIME (09:00 GMT)
Leave it to Joel and Ethan Coen to inject some much needed humour into some interesting but rather worthy fare at this year's festival.
Their latest film Inside Llewyn Davis, which had its Cannes premiere last night, was something of a triumph with the audience, who for the most part had queued outside in the driving rain for hours and were sorely in need of a laugh or two.
Set amid the folk music scene of Greenwich Village in New York in the early 1960s, it follows the talented but painfully cynical singer Davis on his journey through the city as he seeks a validation of his life and his music. Plus there is a rather wonderful haughty cat.
We watch as Davis stumbles again and again over various roadblocks, most of his own making. His interactions with Carey Mulligan as Jean Berkey, with whom, we learn, he has had an illicit affair, are priceless.
She is part of folk duo Jim and Joan, with Jim played earnestly by singer Justin Timberlake. Frankly, the sight of Timberlake singing folk songs while dressed in a knit jumper and impressive folky beard have got to be worth any admission price.
Oscar Isaac impresses as Davis, gaining a degree of empathy for a pretty unsympathetic character, and John Goodman has a great cameo as a southern jazz player.
But the real star is the music, supplied by artists including Mumford and Sons and T Bone Burnett - who previously worked with the Coen Brothers on O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The film must be considered one of the frontrunners so far for the Palme d'Or, an award the pair won in 1991 for Barton Fink.
But it could be Denmark's year. After the Danes took this year's Eurovision Song Contest, they could find themselves rooting for their co-production Borgman, which is the official Dutch entrant in this year's Cannes competition.
A middle-class family's life is turned upside down by the appearance of a tramp - played by Jan Bivjoet - on their doorstep, demanding a bath and some food.
As he slowly inveigles himself into their lives, a sinister tone is set as he manipulates husband against wife, wife against nanny, and nanny against boyfriend. All the while, he draws the couple's three angelic looking children closer to him.
The mysterious stranger, calling himself Borgman, also has a small gang of acolytes prepared to do horrific deeds at his bidding.
Elsewhere, Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence has been posing for photographers on the Croisette as she promotes Catching Fire, the second in The Hunger Games series.
And British Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel is to star as an Indian maths genius plucked from obscurity in 1914 and brought to Cambridge University.
SATURDAY 18 MAY 17:30 LOCAL TIME (15:30 GMT)
David Hasselhoff is the latest celebrity set to play himself in a movie which is named after him.
The Hoff is in town to promote Killing Hasselhoff, a comedy which sees a man trying to win money in a celebrity death pool by hiring a hitman to kill the Knight Rider star.
The tone of the film is, according to the film's producer, "The Hangover meets Horrible Bosses".
Hasselhoff joins the ranks of actors like Jean Claude Van Damme, Evil Dead actor Bruce Campbell and, of course, John Malkovich, who have all starred in films which share their name.
Film buffs will note that the Hoff has played himself twice in films before, Piranha Double D and in Ben Stiller's Dodgeball.
The weather has not improved much, as torrential rain continue to drive people into the screening rooms.
It was, however, oddly fitting for one of today's Critics' Week films - a UK debut feature from British director Paul Wright.
Set in a small fishing village in north-east Scotland, For Those in Peril tells of a young man who is the sole survivor of a boating accident in which his older brother and a group of other local lads are lost.
Though his grief-stricken mother and his brother's girlfriend are glad to have him back alive, the rest of the town are not so grateful, viewing his miraculous survival with suspicion and anger.
It would have been better, they tell him, if he had died as well.
The film employs a mix of visual styles, including home video, and explores themes of loss and acceptance.
A central motif of an old folk tale, about the devil coming on land and stealing the children to take down into the water, gives the film an almost surrealist fairytale quality.
But sadly, it is a yarn that is not certain to leave its protagonists living happily ever after.
It looks to be another strong showing for the UK after the rave reception to Clio Barnard in the same strand of the festival yesterday.
Benicio Del Toro plays a native American in another film in competition, Jimmy P (Psychoanalysis of a Plains Indian).
It is based on the true record of an anthropologist brought into help a WWII veteran who has been suffering from psychological problems, which have been wrongly diagnosed as schizophrenia.
With Del Toro in the title role, French actor Mathieu Almaric - better known to British audiences as the Bond villain in Quantum of Solace - is the maverick analyst brought in to help him.
While the film's slow pace may put off some cinemagoers (for the first time in Cannes, a man next to me was spark out), as might its focus on their one-on-one meetings and the analysis of Del Toro's tortured dreams, it is nevertheless a masterclass in cinema acting.
It always pays to check out something different in Cannes and one of those oddities is the Russian film Bite the Dust.
Set in rural Russia, the oddball inhabitants of a tiny village learn from the TV - the only one on the village - that a solar storm is set to bring about the end of the world.
They decide to throw themselves a party while they await the apocalypse and as they do, hidden desires are unveiled, hidden truths are spoken, and a crazy old drunkard accuses the others of killing his pet cow Candy.
To say this film is a little unusual is a considerable understatement. Oddly though I rather enjoyed it.
FRIDAY 17 MAY, 21:00 LOCAL TIME (19:00 GMT)
One of those special Cannes moments today at a screening of British director Clio Barnard's Oscar Wilde adaptation The Selfish Giant.
The film tells the story of two mates Arbor and Swifty who decide that bunking off school and collecting scrap to sell to local merchant Kitten is a much better use of their time.
They make an odd couple, hyperactive whirlwind Arbor and his gentle mate Swifty - who has a way with horses, leading to an offer from Kitten to race his pony - causing a split in the lad's friendship.
Barnard and her first-time actors Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas was presented on stage prior to the screening, part of the directors fortnight.
Following the film's conclusion, they were met by a standing ovation and the theatre spotlights picked them out as they stood to accept the reception.
The boys beamed as Barnard, recently acclaimed for her documentary The Arbor, wiped tears from her eyes, competing in the pride stakes with the boys' mothers who had also made the trip to Cannes.
Fruitvale Station, a huge hit at Sundance, is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young black father-of-one who was gunned down by police in the Bay Area of California in 2009.
The film starts with real camera footage of the incident, for which a policeman was jailed for manslaughter.
It is that particular type of story that draws the viewer in to what they already know will end badly.
It makes the hours leading up to the inevitable shooting, during which the Oscar decides one and for all to turn his back on a life of petty crime for the sake of his family, all the more tragic.
Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer gives a strong performance in the role of Oscar's long suffering mother and Michael B Jordan, who fans of The Wire will recognise as a grown up Wallace, also impresses.
FRIDAY 17 MAY, 11:30 LOCAL TIME (09:30 GMT)
There is a lot of buzz about a British film adaptation of The Selfish Giant, directed by The Arbor's Cleo Barnard.
It tells of two boys who start stealing metal to sell to a local scrapyard before a wedge is driven between them and tragedy unfolds.
In his review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw has called it "a fine film, which cements Barnard's growing reputation as one of Britain's best film-makers".
Actor Tahar Rahim, star of A Prophet, and The Artist actress Berenice Bejo are in town to promote their new film, the latest from director Asghar Farhadi.
Farhadi became the first Iranian director to win an Oscar for his film A Separation. The Past is his first film in the French language.
It concerns an Iranian man who returns to Paris, four years after leaving his wife and his stepdaughters, to sign his divorce papers.
On arrival, he finds his estranged wife, Bejo, is now in a relationship with another man, played by Rahim - whose wife is in a coma.
Needless to say it is pretty high on melodrama but provides solid watchable performances from Bejo and Rahim. And Ali Mossafa, who plays the man whose return to the family he abandoned in a fit of depression, is the catalyst for some devastating truths to emerge.
The film is in competition this year, as is A Touch of Sin from China.
The film flits between several different story threads set across modern day China; a dissatisfied worker angry with the unfair share of profits following his village's sale of the mine; a man so bored of life with his wife and child that he would prefer to spend his days roaming the country endlessly; a massage parlour receptionist who has given an ultimatum to the man with whom she is having an affair.
The one thing that unites each seemingly disparate tale is sudden and often bloody violence. Gunshots to the head, eviscerations and suicides are all played out in horrifying detail, bringing to mind the westerns of Sam Peckinpah or the films of Quentin Tarantino.
The film touches on the current boom in Chinese consumerism and the clashing of traditional and modern Chinese culture and tradition.
Maybe not a film for everyone but a very powerful piece of cinema.
THURSDAY 16 MAY, 20:30 LOCAL TIME (18:30 GMT)
Former Harry Potter star Emma Watson and her young co-stars in The Bling Ring used their press conference in the Palais today to bemoan the loss of innocence caused by social networking.
The Sofia Coppola film, which has its premiere tonight, is based on the real-life case of a gang of LA teenagers who burgled the homes of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and then bragged about it on Facebook.
"I think it's amazing how self-aware people are becoming as a result of constantly posting images on Facebook and Instagram," said Watson.
"I think it's a shame that some of that naivety [is] definitely being shortened.
"That period of time when you're not self-conscious is sped up. It's just one of those things."
Watson said she had watched a lot of reality TV in order to play the part of a self-obsessed LA teen lusting after the trappings of celebrity.
"I got to do things I myself as Emma would never do," she said. "It's fun to explore a different side of yourself through a character. It gave me permission to do loads of crazy stuff."
Another documentary screening at the festival deals with fame, or rather how the chase of it can lead to self-destruction.
Particularly if you're pretending to be Californian when you're really from Tayside, on the east coast of Scotland.
The Great Hip Hop Hoax is the bizarre but true story of two lads from Arbroath who bonded over love of rap music and skating.
Talented lyricists but burdened by the fact that Scotland has yet to produce its first fully fledged rap superstar, Brains and Silibil - aka Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd - realised quickly that they would never be taken seriously if they stuck to their Arbroath roots.
But if they made up a back story of being raised in a small town near LA, they might just make it.
The documentary, which had its world premiere at SXSW this year, is a funny and entertaining look at how two chancers fooled the UK music industry and almost the whole world.
The film combines imaginative animation with interviews with Bain and Boyd, as well as those who believed that they had discovered the next Eminem.
It paints an amusing if cynical look at the way dreams are chewed up and spat out and, as the boys would probably have phrased it, how fame can turn on a dime.
THURSDAY 16 MAY, 13:30 LOCAL TIME (11:30 GMT)
French film-maker and Cannes favourite Francois Ozon's Jeune et Jolie, translated as Young and Beautiful, was the opening film of day two of the festival.
The film, which is in competition, stars the impossibly beautiful Marine Vacth as a 17-year-old who experiences her sexual awakening and her search for her identity over the course of four seasons, each marked by a French torch song interlude.
Seduced by the easy money and new experiences, she becomes a teenage prostitute, working behind the backs of her middle-class Parisian parents.
The film is enjoyable and was warmly received but Vacth, undeniably a magnetic screen presence, is almost a contrived caricature of the sullen poetic French teen, chain-smoking Gauloises.
While not every melancholic teen will nose-dive into prostitution, it all felt a little bit familiar.
Less successful in its execution was The Bling Ring, the new film from Sofia Coppola, based on the true story of a gang of LA teens who begin burgling the houses of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.
The film, which is opening the Un Certain Regard strand of the festival, stars Emma Watson in a role far removed from her Harry Potter roots.
As paper thin as its plot suggests, the film doesn't really get underneath the reasons for the robberies, other than the now oft-trodden path that obsession with celebrity is ultimately unfulfilling.
When Paris Hilton herself makes brief cameo, it just feels weird, criticised as she is - almost more so than the wayward teens - for her over-abundance of "stuff".
A few cliches - the hippy new age mum and some vaguely absent parents - offer little by way of explanation or justification for their crimes.
It is no revelation that teenagers constantly bombarded by images of a rich lifestyle which they aspire to but rarely achieve will want to take rather than earn.
Maybe the film's superficiality is the point. It is shiny and loud but has little to offer beyond its sparkle.
Tackling roughly the same subject in a completely different take and discipline, Yannick Oho - a young film-maker from London - has been screening his documentary about the summer riots in London two years ago.
When Tottenham Exploded combines dance, poetry and interviews and has already been honoured with an award from the London Independent Film Festival.
WEDNESDAY 15 MAY, 22:30 LOCAL TIME (20:30 GMT)
Day one at Cannes has drawn to a close and a little rain - well actually scratch that, a lot of rain - failed to dampen the spirits of the fans who lined the red carpet at the premiere of The Great Gatsby earlier.
People who booked their spaces days ago were rewarded with the sight of Leonardo DiCaprio, Baz Luhrmann and Carey Mulligan.
Written by F Scott Fitzgerald, the 1920s-set film has been soundtracked by modern artists.
The reaction to the film itself felt a little muted in the morning screening, though director Luhrmann, whose frenetic visual style employed on films like Moulin Rouge does tend to divide critics, told the BBC that he was well prepared for the worst.
"When Fitzgerald died, his book was horribly criticised," he said. "He had very mixed reviews. Some extremely cruel. Some of the grand critics called him a clown.
"When he died, he was buying copies of his own book just so some sales would register. Fitzgerald had to suffer much crueller and more ill-informed criticisms than I have.
He tried to write the great American novel. I wish he knew that he did."
Alongside the cast was Australian actress Isla Fisher, who plays Myrtle Wilson in the film.
Her husband Sacha Baron Cohen appeared on the French Riviera last year for his film The Dictator.
"I've been to Cannes before," she said. "But normally my husband's on a camel or wearing a mankini."
This evening was also the first screening of a film in competition - Heli - from Mexican director Amat Escalante.
Set in a small unnamed Mexican town, it is the story of a young father who lives with his young wife and baby, his father and his precocious 12-year-old sister Estela.
When she falls in love with a teenage police cadet and announces her plans to run away and marry, the family is sent spinning into a nightmare of violence.
Beginning with what looks like a horrific murder carried out by a drug cartel, it is a brutal film with sudden and extended bursts of violence, at least two of which - one an unbearable torture scene - caused an audible gasp in the screening theatre.
The cast are almost exclusively newcomers, which lends the film an almost sickening degree of realism.
The scattered applause at the film's climax perhaps signals that it is not a particular early favourite for the top prize.
WEDNESDAY 15 MAY, 14:00 LOCAL TIME (12:00 GMT)
It's day one of Cannes and some heavy early rain did not put off some lengthy queues for the first screening of The Great Gatsby in 3D.
As usual, there were the usual sighs and moans of discontent as the accredited press, segregated by the colour of their passes - which meant some had to spend a little longer sheltering under their dripping copies of Screen International - the festival's daily bible.
The film is the second that Leonardo DiCaprio, in the title role, has worked with director Baz Luhrmann, following Romeo and Juliet in 1996.
Luhrmann took some liberties with that sacred Shakespeare text and his take on the American classic is no different.
A visual explosion, his scenes of Gatsby's flamboyant parties, though set during the roaring twenties, are accompanied by contemporary artists like Jay-Z, Beyonce and Lana Del Ray.
In the press conference that followed, Luhrmann said Scott's granddaughter had approached him and said his book would have made her grandfather proud "and by the way I love the music".
As for the reaction in the packed cinema, there was a peculiar silence as the credits rolled. The film has had mixed reviews in the States.
DiCaprio excels as the doomed Gatsby, older than the teen heartthrob days of Romeo and Titanic's Jack, but he retains a youthfulness that is perfect for the man-child Gatsby, still clinging to the dream of a time past.
"It's one of those iconic American novels that's woven into the fabric of our country," he told BBC News.
Of his preparation for the role DiCaprio said: "I looked at it as not a love story any more, but as a man obsessed with a version of his past that he never got to complete, something that was missing.
"Even though this woman right in front of him was everything he thought would complete him, she was a relic of the past, she didn't really exist," he added.
Some other news from the festival - Martin Scorsese is expected in Cannes at some point to talk about his next project Silence, starring Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield as a 17th Century missionary.
There is some excitement that none other than Mr Justin Timberlake will also make an appearance to support his new film Spinning Gold - a biopic of 1970s music entrepreneur Neil Bogart - the man who launched the careers of music stars such Kiss and Donna Summer.
Another music connection comes in the form of 1970s electro-nerds Sparks who are in town looking for funding for a musical project called The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman.
Brothers Ron and Russell Mael will be in Cannes ahead of a show they are playing in Paris.
News of British film plans: Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, David Tennant and Ben Miller will star in What We Did on Our Holiday, by the co-creators of Outnumbered, Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton. The film, which will begin shooting next month, is about a dysfunctional family on a trip to Scotland for a big family gathering.
TUESDAY 14 MAY, 17:00 LOCAL TIME (15:00 GMT)
There are more than 24 hours until Leonardo DiCaprio and the cast of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby walk down the red carpet at the Palais des Festivals, yet on the Croisette outside, incredibly diligent autograph hunters have already bagged their spots, sheltering from the hot Riviera sunshine beneath umbrellas and wide brimmed floppy hats.
The streets are busy but the atmosphere resembles the last few hours before a music festival opens its gates to the public - a hive of activity where it is the workmen who are in charge.
The Hollywood adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's American masterpiece has been chosen to open this year's festival.
Though Gatsby is not in competition itself, 2013 is nevertheless a strong showing for US directors, who make up about 25% of the films in the running for the coveted Palme d'Or.
Disappointingly, no British films have made the list, but the UK will be represented on the judging panel by Scottish film-maker Lynne Ramsey, director of We Need To Talk About Kevin.
Last year, Ken Loach's The Angel's Share was the UK's sole competitor. Although it lost out on the main prize to Michael Haneke's Amour, it won the Jury Prize, the third most prestigious award at the festival.
Much of the buzz so far seems to be centred on Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra, which sees Michael Douglas play flamboyant entertainer Liberace.
The film, made for US cable network HBO, also stars Matt Damon as Liberace's secret lover.
Part of that buzz comes from Soderbergh's suggestion that this could be his last movie.
Another film causing no little excitement is Only God Forgives, which reteams Ryan Gosling with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn.
It too is in competition but, if its trailer is to be believed, it could be a little too violent for this year's jury, which is headed by Steven Spielberg.
The last gleefully bloody film to win the Palme d'Or was Pulp Fiction back in 1994.
Running alongside the star-studded screenings is the Marche du Film, one of the busiest movie markets in the world. Almost 4,700 films were presented last year from more than 100 countries.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest rise in attendance was from Asia, with China now the world's second-biggest movie market behind the US, having overtaken Japan.
Competition to find distributors will be tough, though - European countries hit hardest by the financial crisis have all experienced a drop in cinema attendance.