May 15, 2014 - 12:18 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The world's biggest film festival opened in Cannes Wednesday, May 14 with a blast of controversy as critics mercilessly savaged the opening movie about Hollywood-darling-turned-princess Grace of Monaco, Agence France-Presse reported.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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 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.