The prestigious 2023 Cannes Film Festival, its 76th occurrence, was brilliantly inaugurated on Tuesday evening by French cinema icon, Catherine Deneuve. The famous actress was accompanied by her daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, who played the role of master of ceremonies. In the spotlight: Michael Douglas, the honorary Palme d’Or recipient, and a poetic tribute dedicated by Deneuve to Ukraine.

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The long-awaited announcement of the Festival’s opening was declared by Catherine Deneuve, a legendary figure of the seventh art, in tandem with famed American actor Michael Douglas. “I declare open the 76th Cannes Film Festival,” announced Deneuve, a statement echoed by Douglas in English. This came moments after the American actor was honored with an honorary Palme d’Or.

Catherine Deneuve, whose portrait adorns the Festival’s poster this year, took the opportunity to express her solidarity with Ukraine, reciting a poem by Ukrainian poetess Lessia Ukrainka. This comes a year after the surprising appearance of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the opening ceremony of the Festival, which occurred shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

US actor Michael Douglas acknowledges the audience after he received the Honorary Palme d’or of the 76th Cannes Film Festival during the opening ceremony in Cannes southern France on May 16 2023. Photo Credit : Antonin Thuillier / AFP

Jeanne du Barry, a feature film directed by French director Maïwenn and starring Johnny Depp as King Louis XV, was chosen as the opening film for this year. The competition begins today with two feature films, Monster by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda and The Return by French filmmaker Catherine Corsini.

21 filmmakers are vying for the coveted Palme d’Or, with a record number of 7 being women. These talents will be judged by a jury composed of nine distinguished members, chaired by Ruben Östlund, who won his second Palme in 2022 for The Triangle of Sadness.

The 2023 Cannes Film Festival also offered a triumphant moment for Michael Douglas. The American actor received an honorary Palme d’Or, thus crowning his 55-year-long cinematic career. He was greeted with a standing ovation, a vibrant tribute to his remarkable career.

French actress Catherine Deneuve arrives for the opening ceremony and the screening of the film “Jeanne du Barry” during the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes southern France on May 16 2023. Photo Credit : Patricia De Melo Moreira / AFP)

“What a hug!” exclaimed the visibly moved actor, in front of a standing room applauding him warmly. His wife, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, and daughter Carys were also present.

Recognition from this iconic festival means a lot to Douglas. “There are hundreds of film festivals in the world, but there is only one Cannes… It’s an incredible honor,” he stated. Uma Thurman, the American actress, presented him with the award, hailing Douglas as an “iconic star of cinema” and a “brilliant artist.”

Before the award was presented, a short film was screened, paying tribute to Douglas’s cinematic career. This visual retrospective included snippets from some of his most iconic films, such as Fatal Attraction (1987) and Basic Instinct (1992), reminding the audience of the breadth and depth of his work. This poignant moment was made all the more significant when recalling that the previous year, this same honor was bestowed upon Forest Whitaker and Tom Cruise, two other giants of cinema.

Thus, the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, with its highlights and vibrant tributes, promises to be a memorable event for all film lovers. The award-winners are still unknown, but one thing is certain: this year, Cannes is once again celebrating cinema in all its splendor and diversity.

With AFP