Cannes goes Gaga -- but not over the movie stars
IT isn't easy to outshine the brightest stars in Hollywood but if there is one woman under the heavens capable of doing exactly that it is Lady Gaga, and that is precisely what she did on a surprise visit to Cannes yesterday.
The film fans were already in a frenzy to catch a glimpse of the the biggest names in showbiz on the red carpet as the festival officially began.
Woody Allen's new film, a romantic comedy called 'Midnight in Paris', was to have been the main attraction.
It opened the festival and the veteran director was joined on the red carpet by some of its stars including Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Michael Sheen.
That was until Lady Gaga showed up unexpectedly drawing screams of delight from her fans ahead of a concert on the beach.
Gaga appeared wearing a black leather vest emblazoned with the words "Born This Way" while her team of dancers rehearsed for the show, due to go ahead on Cannes' waterfront after the festival's official launch.
In the Woody Allen film, Sheen is cast as a pompous intellectual.
The movie includes a scene where he patronises a museum tour guide played by France's first lady Carla Bruni.
She is not attending the festival -- a decision that has fuelled speculation she is pregnant.
Also on the red carpet were Salma Hayek and members of this year's jury, including Uma Thurman, Jude Law and jury president Robert De Niro.
Allen earlier told a packed press conference he came up with the title for the film, about a young couple in the French capital, long before he decided on its plot.
He said: "I thought of a wonderful title, 'Midnight in Paris', because it's suggestive of an enormous amount of romance but I didn't know what was going to happen at midnight in Paris. Months went by and I couldn't think of what happened at midnight in Paris."
De Niro said he was looking forward to playing his part in awarding the coveted Palme d'Or.
He said: "I'm not sure what I'm looking for. We'll sit there and see the movies and figure it out."
Asked how he would compare the films, which include entries from America, Finland and Japan, De Niro said the jury would look at "how important we feel they are in comparison to the other movies ... so it's up for grabs at the moment".
More big names are expected as the week goes on with 'Pirates of the Caribbean' stars Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz set to appear alongside actors including Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman and Jodie Foster.
"Paris is one of my favourite places in the world," Allen said as he headed into his premiere.
Among others attending the festival's opening night were Antonio Banderas, in Cannes to show off footage for his upcoming 'Puss in Boots' animated adventure, and wife Melanie Griffith, along with 'Puss in Boots' co-star Salma Hayek.
The opening ceremony that preceded Allen's film included a performance by jazz pianist Jamie Cullum, who played a medley of songs about the Big Apple, including 'New York, New York' and Alicia Keys' 'Empire State of Mind' as a tribute to De Niro.
The ceremony featured an honorary Palme d'Or, the festival's highest prize, for Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, whose films include 1988 Academy Award best-picture recipient 'The Last Emperor'. He'd never won the grand prize at Cannes.
"I waited a bit, but here it is. I've received my Palme d'Or," Bertolucci said.
De Niro heads the jury that will award prizes among the 20 films in the Cannes main competition.
Apart from Thurman and Law, the jury also includes Argentine actress Martina Gusman, French filmmaker Olivier Assayas and Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To.