May 17 - Comedy dominated the opening hours of the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival with UK satirist Sacha Baron Cohen parading in front of cameras with a live camel, while the festivities officially kicked off with a screening of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. Matt Cowan reports from Cannes.
In other parts of Europe they're discussing austerity. In the south of France, a make believe dictator is taking a camel for a walk. Always glamorous and never dull, the Cannes film festival got underway with an eye-catching photo op by the comedian and actor Sacha Baron Cohen in the guise of a fictional North African dictator. He was promoting his film called 'The Dictator'. The world's largest film festival is playing host to some of the biggest names in Hollywood - Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaghy are just a few of the A-listers expected to walk the red carpet. Global cinema is also in the frame here with Egypt's recent uprising hitting the big screen in Yousry Nasrallah's film After The Battle. Austria's Palme D'Or winning director Michael Haneke is back with the much anticipated Amour. Canadian director David Cronenberg enlists Twilight star Robert Pattinson in his film Cosmopolis about a NewYork financier who's life is crumbling amid troubling economic times. Fans looking for something a bit more bohemian may favour the film starring Twilight's Kristen Stewart, an adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. The official festivities got underway with a screenting of Moonrise Kingdom by offbeat American director Wes Anderson. Star Bill Murray says he's been experiencing his own form of austerity. SOUNDBITE ACTOR BILL MURRAY, SAYING (English) : "This is what we call art films. I don't know if you know what those are. Those are films where you work very, very long hours for no money. This is all we get, is a trip to Cannes. There's no money involved. These are our own clothes. There's no rental here, there's nothing. Fortunately we've saved up from other jobs so we can work with Wes over and over again." Cannes delegate says this festival is in its 65th year as much as ever about telling stories and selling dreams. SOUNDBITE: THIERRY FREMAUX, GENERAL DELEGATE OF THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL, SAYING (English): "We have to manage a way to give the people dreams and to say that even in the 30s after the big crisis (the Great Depression) cinema was in very good shape. And we are not going to stop to live, and cinema and the screening rooms are not the theatre, it's not a very expensive pleasure. And again Cannes is not only about competition, it's not only about Palme d'Or - it's about industry and we hope that we can contribute for this industry to go ahead." Film, fashion and frivolity in the Cote D'Azure. Cannes may not solve any of Europe's underlying problems but with headline grabbers galore it does promise to offer up some potent distractions. Matt Cowan, Reuters