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66th Cannes Film Festival kicks off

media Director Baz Luhrmann (in blue) with Leonardo DiCaprio (L), Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire (R), who star in The Great Gatsby Reuters

The red carpet has officially been rolled out, as stars and fans alike prepare for the start of the 66th Cannes Film Festival Wednesday evening. The much anticipated The Great Gatsby headlines the festival, with French actress Audrey Tautou hosting the opening and closing ceremonies.

Fans stood at the ready on Wednesday morning, folding chairs in hand, along the red carpet at the Palais des festivals, ahead of what promises to be a star-studded evening.

Cannes 2013

Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan will be among the first to hit the red carpet, where they are promoting their film, the newly adapted version of The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann, is not included in the festival, but has already garnered significant hype and real success in the United States. In its first weekend at the box office, it brought in over 50 million dollars (38 million euros). The festival marks its international launch.

American producer Steven Spielberg will preside over the eight member jury, comprised of such international celebrities as Australian star Nicole Kidman, Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee and French actor Daniel Auteuil.

Spielberg told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday morning that it was a huge honour to preside over the jury, and expressed his love of French filmmaking.

“What I love about French cinema is that you can say extraordinary things with an open heart. In the United States, if you do that, we’d think you’re overly sentimental,” Spielberg said.

French actress Audrey Tautou, who will host the opening and closing portions of the festival, said she was surprised but touched by being asked to fill the role, which Bérénice Béjo claimed last year.

“For two or three days after I was asked, I was split between wanting to do it and wondering if I would be capable. In the end, I decided to not let my fears get the best of me!” said Tautou.

Among the festival’s 20 officially selected films are “Behind the Candelabra,” directed by Stephen Soderbergh, Roman Polanski’s “Venus in Fur,” “Le Passé” (The Past) by Asghar Farhadi and Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive.”

The festival runs until 26 May.

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