The curtain goes up at the Cannes film festival on Wednesday, kicking off 12 days of screenings in the glamourous French riveria resort.
Comedy will dominate the opening, with a showing of US director Wes Anderson’s child fantasy “Moonrise Kingdom.”
Organisers are hoping to defy the economic gloom in Europe with a spate of sales.
“We have to find a way to give the people dreams. Even in the 1930s, after the big crisis (the economic Great Depression), cinema was in very good shape,” said Thierry Fremaux, the festival’s artistic director.
This year’s festival has come under fire for not including a single female director in its main competition line-up. Organisers have defended their decision, saying they would not impose a “quota policy.”
A total of 22 films are in the running for the top Palme D’or prize.
Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman are among the big names expected to grace the red carpet.