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The 65th Cannes Film Festival kicked off Wednesday night with the world premiere of Wes Anderson‘s quirky summer camp love story Moonrise Kingdom, following a star-powered opening night ceremony.
Anderson and the film’s cast – Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Bill Murray plus child stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward — hiked up the famous red carpet steps of Cannes’ Palais.
PHOTOS: Cannes 2012: Competition Lineup Features ‘Cosmopolis,’ ‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ ‘Killing Them Softly’
Alec Baldwin, in town to shoot Seduced and Abandoned, a documentary about the film business that James Toback is directing, also joined the fest’s birthday party alongside L’Oreal spokesmodel and fest regular Jane Fonda as well as Jessica Chastain, back in Competition with her new film Lawless after The Tree of Life’s big win last year.
The Artist star Berenice Bejo, who walked the red carpet last year, also was back on familiar ground, serving as host of the ceremony. Bejo first thanked the festival “where it all began last year” and addressed fest toppers Thierry Fremaux and Gilles Jacob with a personal “Thierry, Gilles, thanks.”
PHOTOS: Cannes Film Festival: Veterans Ready to Return to the Croisette
Bejo’s husband, Artist director Michel Hazanavicius, took a supporting role for the evening, applauding his wife from a seat in the orchestra.
Nanni Morettiand his A-list jury that includes Diane Kruger, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander Payne, Ewan McGregor, Raoul Peck, Hiam Abbas and Emmanuelle Devos took the stage before preparing for a 12-day movie marathon where they’ll choose from this year’s crop of 22 Competition titles before giving out the coveted Palme d’Or prize on May 27. Moretti, who won the Palme d’Or in 2001 for The Son’s Room, gave a speech in Italian-accented French, wishing everyone a great festival.
Gossip’s Beth Ditto livened up the traditionally serious and formal night with a rendition of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” as photos of Marilyn Monroe, this year’s festival poster girl, flashed behind her on the large screen.
“This is the fanciest prom I’ve ever been to, thank you for having me here Cannes,” she said mid-song, adding later, “It’s a tough crowd.”
Anderson joined the Moonrise Kingdom cast on stage to launch the festival officially. The opening ceremony was broadcast live and unencrypted on French pay TV giant Canal Plus.
After the ceremony and screening, VIP guests headed next door to the Agora pavilion to dine on gourmet fare from Michelin-starred chefs Bruno Oger and Rasmus Kofoed brought in by Electrolux. The dinner was heavy on both star power and calories with 20 kilos of scallops, 12 kilos of truffles, 21 kilos of mushrooms and 45 kilos of smoked salmon, not to mention four kilos of white chocolate and 70 litres of fresh cream.
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