Stars come out on eve of Cannes opening
Cannes: Cannes on Tuesday rolled out the red carpet for Steven Spielberg, head of this year's film festival jury, with the legendary moviemaker dining with his fellow judges on the eve of the 12-day Riviera movie
Spielberg, who arrived mid-afternoon at his seafront hotel, was meeting jury members including Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee and Christoph Waltz at a two Michelin star restaurant for a meal prepared by top chef Christian Sinicropi.
Audrey Tautou, the host of Wednesday's opening ceremony, took part in her first photo call, looking demure in a yellow floral-patterned summer dress.
Famously self-effacing, the French actress was catapulted to international stardom in 2001 with the surprise global success 'Amelie'.
Tautou said she discovered she had been chosen as the maitresse de ceremonies by text message.
"The offer threw me off balance a bit. I was immediately touched, but torn between wanting to accept and for two or three days wondering if I could do it," she told AFP in an interview.
"In the end I refused to allow myself to be ruled by fear," she added.
Tautou caught the world's imagination in 'Amelie' as the meddlesome pixie-faced waitress from Montmartre.
She went on to star with Tom Hanks in the 'Da Vinci Code' in 2006 but has since largely shunned Hollywood in favour of French films.
The city and festival venue were putting the last-minute touches to the film extravaganza which is the yearly highlight of the Riviera resort.
A huge festival poster of Paul Newman embracing his actress wife Joanne Woodward adorned the front of the Palais des Festivals, which dominates Cannes' palm-fringed sea front.
Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Ryan Gosling and Alain Delon are among the stars expected for the May 15-26 fest.
Dozens of events were also planned at hotels, luxury villas and private beaches around the town including a 'Gatsby'-themed dance for 800 locals.
Although most stars only stay one or two nights, hotels pride themselves on being able to respond to any request no matter how eccentric.
Security was also expected to be particularly tight this year in the wake of the Boston bomb attacks.
The festival will open on Wednesday night with the European premiere of Australian director Baz Luhrmann's 'The Great Gatsby'.
The Roaring Twenties costume drama stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the enigmatic millionaire Jay Gatsby and British actress Carey Mulligan as his love interest Daisy.
Unusually for Cannes, the opening film will not be a world premiere. 'Gatsby' opened last week in North America to mixed reviews but good box office.
Some critics savaged its visual mix and soundtrack as an overlong music video that denatures F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, but others praised it for boldness.
DiCaprio's visit to Cannes will see him treading in the footsteps of the American writer.
Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda spent a number of years in the 1920s near Cannes, where they met another American couple whose gilded life inspired his novel 'Tender is the Night'.
Their circle included literary and artistic luminaries such as Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso for whom they threw lavish parties.
One villa they rented was earlier this year put on the market for over $35 million.
The Coen brothers, Roman Polanski and Steven Soderbergh are among the heavy hitters with films in competition at this year's festival.
They will compete with a host of younger talents including Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and Denmark's Nicolas Winding Refn for the coveted Palme d'Or.