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72nd Cannes Film Festival: Curtain goes up for movie extravaganza

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The trophy, made of 24-carat gold, pays tribute to the Cannes coat of arms
The trophy, made of 24-carat gold, pays tribute to the Cannes coat of arms -
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Reuters
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The Cannes Film Festival, now in its 72nd year, opens today with US director Jim Jarmusch's comedy-horror, The Dead Don't Die.

Bill Murray fighting off zombies will no doubt prove one of the festival highlights, along with an Elton John biopic telling the story of the singer's early days and Quentin Tarantino's hotly anticipated outing Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie.

Looking ahead to some of the expected red carpet action, Scott Roxborough, European bureau chief at the Hollywood Reporter told Reuters: ''I mean we are opening with The Dead Don't Die and that's just packed with stars – Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop. Iggy Pop is going to be on the red carpet in Cannes, that's very exciting for me.

"And then the next week, probably the biggest red carpet is going to be Once Upon a Time in Hollywood which is packed with basically the A-list of Hollywood.''

Tarantino rushed to finish editing Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in time to present it in competition. It comes 25 years after the US director, 56, won the Palme d'Or for Pulp Fiction. Tarantino also unveiled Second World War epic Inglourious Basterds at the festival in 2009.

The prestigious Palme d'Or trophy, awarded to the best film of the festival, is made by Swiss luxury jewellery house Chopard in 24-carat gold and pays tribute to the coat of arms of the city of Cannes.

Spanish director Pedro Almodovar – who presided over the jury at Cannes two years ago, a spot handed this year to Mexico's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – will also be in contention for the top award with Pain and Glory.

The movie, which reunites actors Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, tracks the travails of a filmmaker.

Britain's Ken Loach, 82, who won the Palme D'Or in 2016 with I, Daniel Blake, returns with Sorry We Missed You.

Netflix movies will again be notably absent from Cannes. While the Venice Film Festival embraced Roma, the Alfonso Cuaron film for which Netflix acquired distribution rights and which went on to earn an Oscar for best director, competition rules at Cannes dictate that movies cannot be streamed for three years after a cinema release.

"This year is probably going to be a very traditional festival and the films that will be showing here will all be theatrical films but I think the festival has to change and they acknowledge that they have to change,'' said Roxborough.

Cannes is also adapting to a new era of scrutiny over the lack of women in film. The festival's jury – besides president Gonzalez Inarritu – is made up of four women and four men for the first time. Four female directors are competing for the top award, out of 21 films.

At last year's festival, 82 women working in film symbolically walked the red carpet together in a demonstration calling for better access and gender equality in cinema.

Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux said: "Cannes is always under attack. We expect things of Cannes which we don't expect of other festivals, which we don't expect of other organisations.

"At the moment I feel like I'm never talking about cinema, I only talking about social topics, societal topics, because we're asking the Cannes Film Festival to be beyond reproach, to be perfect. And we're trying to be perfect."

"I said five years ago when we first came under fire for this, in 2011 which was the only year where we didn't have any female filmmakers in competition, that Cannes is at the end of the line. The beginning of the line is the support in the writing process, in film schools."