Grace of Monaco, the opening film of the 67th Cannes Film Festival, brought top-end glamour and juicy controversy to the Côte d'Azur last night.
Nicole Kidman, who plays the former Grace Kelly in French director Olivier Dahan's film, was on the red carpet to meet the characteristically noisy press pack.
Grace of Monaco, which deals with the French government's attempts to impose income tax on Monaco during the early 1960s, has been the subject of much dispute in the lead-up to the event. Surviving members of the late princess's family have denounced the film as overly glamorised and suggested it relied on "dubious historical references".
To nobody's great surprise, Prince Albert, the current ruler of Monaco, did not travel the 50km from Monte Carlo to Cannes for the world premiere.
“Obviously I feel sad, because I think that the film has no malice toward the family,” Kidman said at a press conference before the official screening. “It’s fictionalised. It’s not a biopic. There is an essence of truth, but with a lot of these things you take dramatic licence at times.”
She added: "I still have respect and I want them to know the performance is done with love. And if they ever did see it they would see there was an enormous amount of love for their parents."
Dahan has claimed that mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is distributing the film in the US, attempted to impose a less controversial cut, which the director described as a "pile of s**t".
Weinstein later backed down from his threat to sell the film to another distributor unless Dahan relented.
This year’s festival, which runs until May 25th, will, as ever, screen high-end art cinema in the official competition while deals are forged in the busy cinema market that occupies the lower areas of the Palais des Festivals.
Irish interest is kept aloft by the inclusion of Ken Loach's Jimmy's Hall in the race for the Palme d'Or, the festival's biggest prize. Based on a play by Donal O'Kelly, the film concerns disputes between Jimmy Gralton, a committed socialist, and the new establishment in Leitrim during the 1930s.
The film is co-produced by the Irish Film Board, which also supported John Boorman's autobiographical Queen and Country, playing in the prestigious Directors' Fortnight strand. A follow-up to the same director's Hope and Glory, the new film deals with a young Englishman's time in the British army during the Korean War.
Other releases tipped for glory include Mike Leigh's Mr Turner, a study of painter JMM Turner, and David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, a Hollywood satire starring Robert Pattinson and Julianne Moore.
But the ante-post favourite remains Nuri Bilge Ceylan's sombre Turkish drama Winter Sleep. For all the commerce, Cannes still takes its cinema seriously.
There has, however, been some criticism this year of the programme’s familiarity. Of the 18 films in the main competition, 13 are by directors who have already competed for the Palme d’Or. It feels like a family reunion.