The Croisette crowd sees 'Blindness' stars

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The Festival de Cannes fixed its gaze on the world premiere of Fernando Meirelles' "Blindness" on Wednesday night as Sean Penn led his jury into the Palais des Festivals.

While a plague of blindness hits an unnamed city in Meirelles' thriller, the Palais red carpet was seeing stars as the film's talent —Julianne Moore, Danny Glover and Gael Garcia Bernal — gave festgoers quite the sight for sore eyes. Cate Blanchett, Eva Longoria and Faye Dunaway added Hollywood glam to the black-tie evening.

Funnyman Edouard Baer opened the evening with a warm welcome in English, telling the crowd in a thick French accent, "My heart is full of love and emotion."

The low-key ceremony stuck to tradition as the Penn-led jury — American actress Natalie Portman, Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, French director Rachid Bouchareb, German actress Alexandra Maria Lara, Italian actor-director Sergio Castellitto, Iranian director Marjane Satrapi, French actress Jeanne Balibar and Thai helmer Apichatpong Weerasethaku — took their seats onstage.

Penn talked about his vision for this year's fest: "We're going to be sending love letters to some movies. Those who don't get them, don't be discouraged," Penn said, adding, "I'm making a plea to those distributors who don't get awards: Stand behind your films as you are now. We're going to do our best." (partialdiff)
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