Aspects: Stealing the Limelight; They May Have Walked Away Empty Handed, but UK Actors Stole the Show at This Year's Cannes Film Festival, Writes Alison Jones

Article excerpt

Colin Welland's clarion call to the film industry that "the Brits are coming" resonated around this year's Cannes Film Festival.

For although they may have had empty palms when it came to picking up any prizes, the Brits ruled when it came to stealing the limelight.

They were everywhere the paparazzi's cameras pointed, lending glamour (Catherine Zeta Jones, Julia Ormond), gravitas (Nigel Hawthorne, Alan Rickman), or simply providing a whiff of Royal-by-association scandal (Tom Parker Bowles).

The unperturbable Kristin Scott Thomas even stepped in to save the closing ceremony, when prize presenter Sophie Marceau's Gallic verbosity started drawing boos from the crowd.

The roll-call of UK stars also included Vanessa Redgrave, British-born Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery, Rupert Everett, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Tim Roth, Jude Law, Sadie Frost, the girl group All Saints, rising ex Eastenders star Paul Nicholls, Patsy Kensit, Liam Gallagher and a host of others.

It was the summer of the self publicist as hitherto B-list celebrities shamelessly flaunted their ambition, attempting to turn a talent for looking good in a dress into an A-list acting career.

The front runners were unquestionably Liz Hurley and Catherine Zeta-Jones, with Hugh's squeeze hoping that her light comedy role in EDtv will give Liz more credibility than her clothes.

By contrast Catherine has the luxury of two hit films under her designer belt and can confidently embark on a personal crusade to put some of the glitz back into being a star.

But there was stiff competition from the likes of ex-Big Breakfast babe Denise van Outen and society girl about town Tamara Beckwith, milking their relatively minor roles in the movie Tube Tales and a fly-on-the-wall film of the festival respectively.

Elsewhere on the Croisette, another wannabe's attempts to impress backfired spectacularly. Model turned actress Katherina Marx's claims to be the great granddaughter of Karl Marx were swiftly disproved. Backtracking rapidly she alleged her gran had told her they were distantly related.

Some stars used the festival to launch themselves back on the social scene following their return from re-hab. …