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61st Cannes Festival Opening Ceremony

The Wednesday evening opening ceremonies for the 61st Cannes Festival featured the In-Competition screening of Blindness, in the presence of director Fernando Meirelles and actors Danny Glover, Julianne Moore, and Gael García Bernal. A number of celebrities were spotted on the red-carpeted steps to the palace, including Un Certain Regard jury president Fatih Akin, Claude Lelouch, and Faye Dunaway. Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, also attended the ceremony. For the fourth consecutive year, the Palace façade displayed a portrait of Ingrid Betancourt, who has been held hostage by Colombian FARC rebels since February 2003.

On the Palace stage, Master of Ceremonies Edouard Baer graciously welcomed the Jury and its President, actor-director Sean Penn. The jurors are Jeanne Balibar, Alexandra Maria Lara, Natalie Portman, Marjane Satrapi, Rachid Bouchareb, Sergio Castellitto, Alfonso Cuarón, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. "I'm very happy to be here with you," said Sean Penn, remarking that "the Cannes Festival has always selected great films and great actors." "We'll forward love letters to the distributors, who don't get prizes for their films, to encourage them to continue supporting cinema, in all its diversity," he continued.

The audience in the Salle Lumière was then treated to a preview featuring highlights from the films being presented in competition, along with a special appearance by American singer-guitarist Richie Havens. Mr. Havens gave a vibrant rendition of his song Freedom, with which he opened the Woodstock Festival in 1969. The performance brought tears to Jury President Sean Penn's eyes. The ceremony concluded with an official declaration of the event's opening by director Claude Lanzmann, whose feature films Elise, or Real Life, Sobibor, and Israel, Why have premiered here in Cannes. In his remarks, he paid homage to "the intelligence and talent of the Festival organizers, who have broadened the cultural scope of this unique and incomparable event on the planet of cinema," while wondering bemusedly about the kinship between his own films and those of a director like Quentin Tarantino.

Comments (1)

Wow... Sean Penn is the President?

I didn't know that my favorite actor is Cannes Jury President. I am reading a lot about movies, but especially in Romanian on Movie site. I will do it in English too from now on, even if my English is pretty bad. :)

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