Seventeen-year-old actress and model Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of actress-singer Vanessa Paradis and actor father Johnny Depp, opened the festival along with Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film The Salesman last year won the Palm for Best Actor.
Farhadi described the Cannes Film Festival, where some five films from Iran are playing in different sections, as a "place where cultures speak to one another."
Monica Bellucci took her second stab at mistress of ceremony. The first time she did so was in 2003.
The man of the moment at the opening ceremony was not however the one who received his gift from Bellucci, but Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, the president of the nine-member Golden Palm Jury.
Almodovar said it was a moving moment for him and that he hoped the 19 films in competition will be an inspiration for his own film-making.
As far as taking his role as jury president seriously he sai "I promise to be subjective, passionate as well as flexible."
The ceremony was short and sweet. It offered the several hundred guests who included Adrien Brody and Victoria Abril, a show reel of the films in competition which will begin screening Thursday.
It also showed extracts of some of the prolific Almodovar's best shots, followed by this year's opening film, Ismael's Ghosts by Arnaud Desplechin.
Meanwhile, the CEO of the Cannes Film Festival, Pierre Lescure was positive about the appointment of the new French culture minister, Françoise Nyssen.
One of her first trips in her new job will be to the Festival. She was already scheduled to receive an award in Cannes for the series of books on cinema which her publishing house, Actes Sud, has been working on for 25 years with the Institut Lumière in Lyon.