It followed a brief, eloquent and largely respectful ceremony presented by French actor, writer, director and producer, Edouard Baer. He was joined on stage for the magic opening words by US director Martin Scorcese and Australian actress and jury chair, Cate Blanchett.
Regardless of whether he said thank you in French or in English, US director Martin Scorcese who has been coming to Cannes for 45 years, had difficulty tyring to quieten the applause and ovation in the Festival Palace after he took to the stage.
"We're all here to celebrate the art of the moving picture," said the 76 year-old whose film 'Mean Streets' made it to the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes in 1973. He added that he was "honoured to have been chosen to open the festival."
Tall Australian actress Cate Blanchett who played Katherine Hepburn to Leonardo di Caprio’s Howard Hughes in Scorcese’s 2004 movie, Aviator, joined the somewhat smaller director in her lacey evening gown, and in her capacity as the chair of the 71st Cannes Film Festival jury, to open the event officially, in French.
After more applause, the star-studded audience, settled down to watch the opening film in the Golden Palm competition, Everybody Knows, directed by Asghar Farhadi from Iran.
It is set in a village in Castilla in Spain and stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, with Ricardo Darin.
The film is a whodunnit, based on the kidnapping of a teenager. Greed, envy, suspicion and love are driving forces. Everybody knows, or Todos lo Saben in Spanish, is Farhadi’s ironic title for a film where the characters live with deep secrets that the family drama reveals.
Lead actor Javier Bardem who plays Paco the vineyard owner and ex of Laura played by Penelope Cruz, says, after all, love, in this film, works in not so mysterious ways.
"You can't escape love - I think it's always part of his films. Love as an independent force - Characters are drawn to it or repelled by it like a magnet, beyond their control," he said.
The action is largely through conversations and it flits and flutters from one face to another from bedroom to café to belltower and through countryroads.
Farhadi marries old-fashioned farming with care by hand and the use of a hi-tech drone camera to film a wedding party. Almost feudal hierarchy is as key to the plot as the mobile phone.
Forty-five year-old Farhadi's previous films About Elly, A Separation, The Past and The Salesman have won awards in Cannes and in Berlin and also shone at the US Academy Awards ceremony. However, the Iranian has yet to scoop the Golden Palm.