(Reuters) - The Cannes film festival opens on Wednesday with “Robin Hood,” starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett and directed by Ridley Scott.
Crowe’s role as Robin Hood follows several portrayals of the archer who robbed the rich to give to the poor by Hollywood stars, including Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks, Sean Connery and Kevin Costner.
Here are some facts about the Cannes film festival:
— Originally conceived in 1939 as an alternative to the then-Fascist-influenced Venice film festival, Cannes has been held annually since 1946 apart from 1948 and 1950, when lack of funds led to the cancellation of the event.
— In 1949 the stars started coming: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Norma Shearer, Errol Flynn and Edward G. Robinson all appeared that year. Brigitte Bardot made her first appearance in 1953.
— A year later, starlet Simone Silva dropped her bikini top beside Robert Mitchum in front of the photographers, resulting in the kind of racy coverage that secured the festival’s reputation.
— In 1960, the first Cannes Market opened its doors to some 10 participants and one screen — a canvas hung from the roof of the old Palais Croisette. It quickly became a major meeting point for buyers and sellers from all over the world.
— In 1968 film director Louis Malle, who was on that year’s jury with Roman Polanski among others, was one of a group of film-makers who forced the festival to close in the midst of the student and worker uprisings across France. After an all-night debate marked by raging tempers and occasional fistfights, the organizers called it off.
— Jane Campion became the first female director to win the Palme d’Or in 1993 for her film “The Piano.”
— In 1997 a “Palme des Palmes” — a super-version of the Palme d’Or best film prize — was awarded to Ingmar Bergman for the 50th festival. The Swedish director did not appear. — In 2004 an actors masterclass (Lecon d’acteur) was created and inaugurated by Max Von Sydow.
— Austrian director Michael Haneke won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for “The White Ribbon,” a chilling exploration of the roots of Nazi terror.
— Another popular film, “A Prophet,” a powerful prison drama by France’s Jacques Audiard, received the runner up prize.
— The best actor prize went to Austria’s Christoph Waltz for his flamboyant performance as an SS officer in Quentin Tarantino’s World War Two caper “Inglourious Basterds,” which also starred Brad Pitt.
-- France's Charlotte Gainsbourg, who plays a wife mourning the death of her son in Danish director Lars von Trier's controversial film "Antichrist," and was involved in the most shocking scenes, was named best actress. Sources: Reuters/here
Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit