The 65th Cannes Film Festival opened on Wednesday with a gala premiere of Wes Anderson's teen elopement fantasy "Moonrise Kingdom".
"The Artist" star Berenice Bejo dressed in a flowing red robe officially cut the ribbon on the French Riviera showcase along with the US director and star-studded cast of his film, the first of 22 vying for the Palme d'Or top prize.
Starring Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray and Edward Norton as well as its teen heroes, the bittersweet tale of first love kicks off 12 days of screenings, deal-making and champagne-fuelled parties.
Earlier, French actress Bejo, this year's mistress of ceremonies, introduced a short film on jury head Nanni Moretti, who has brought six films to Cannes and won the Palme d'Or in 2001.
"Thank you to this country which, unlike others, always makes space for cinema," Moretti said in return.
Larger-than-life rocker Beth Ditto also performed a jazzed-up rendition of "Candle in the Wind" -- which Elton John originally wrote for Marilyn Monroe, who is honoured as the face of the festival 50 years after her death.
Before the ceremony, jury members Diane Kruger, Ewan McGregor and Jean Paul Gaultier strode up the red carpet alongside Jessica Chastain, Jane Fonda Eva Longoria, first of the roll-call of stars set to grace the seafront festival.
Directors running for the top award in Cannes this year include David Cronenberg, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke, Jacques Audiard, Abbas Kiarostami and Walter Salles.