Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cannes Do! France's Famed Festival of Film and Flesh Marks Half-Century of Glamour

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cannes Do! France's Famed Festival of Film and Flesh Marks Half-Century of Glamour

Article excerpt

Under palm trees bending in a cool Riviera breeze, the glitterati glided by cheering fans Wednesday as the Cannes Film Festival turned 50.

Sabered French guards in full military attire flanked movie stars striding up the red-carpeted steps of the Palais des Festivals: Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Tony Curtis, Dennis Hopper, Isabelle Adjani and Mira Sorvino.

Cannes at 50 still reigns supreme as the showcase for the world's multibillion-dollar film industry, combining the high and low of the art, high-wattage stardom and high-powered deals. As always, it is also a place of dreams for the thousands of ordinary people who jostle with the paparazzi - hoping for a glimpse of a favorite star, or even for a stray ticket. "It allows me to forget daily life," said Nadia Leonard, a 40ish woman in red lipstick and a black lace dress. "It lets me change my skin." Cannes - like the industry it honors - has always been about escapism. It made its debut in 1946, when Europe lay shattered after World War II. France was racked by political upheaval and by shortages of everything from food to fuel. But for a Europe robbed of Hollywood during the war, and a European movie industry struggling in the postwar years, the first film festival in this palm-lined Riviera town drew silver screen idols and helped restore some luster to the old continent. "It brought back the magic of cinema after so many years of deprivation," said Pierre Viot, the festival president. For the 50th - the countdown does not include an early year when the event was scratched for lack of funds - the festival is spending a record $6 million to celebrate. It is inviting past winners for a fete Sunday that French President Jacques Chirac is expected to attend. …

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