Cannes opened its doors on Monday for a festival that will show the new “Star Wars” spinoff but welcome fewer stellar names than usual.
Critics have said a jury including Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and Lea Seydoux has more A-list acting talent than the films, many from lesser-known European, Asian and African filmmakers, vying for the Palme d’Or.
“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” will be the only Hollywood blockbuster screened during the fortnight, and even that will have already premiered in Los Angeles.
Netflix, which brought a raft of A-listers last year, is boycotting Cannes due to French rules that would stop it streaming movies for three years after a cinema release.
This will also be the first festival in years without Harvey Weinstein, the movie mogul once famous on the Riviera for his lavish parties, but now the subject of sexual assault allegations that have shaken the global film industry.
Festival director Thierry Fremaux denied that the lack of US movies indicated Cannes was losing its appeal in Hollywood, where studios increasingly release big films late in the year to get visibility in the run-up to the Oscars, which are awarded in late winter.
“You should never judge on one year,” he told a news conference, while adding that the perhaps the famously harsh press corp at Cannes, where movies are often booed during media screenings, might be “scaring certain productions” away.
Hollywood Reporter critic Scott Roxborough said Cannes remained “the number one film festival for quality cinema worldwide” and that its selection of less commercial movies showed “Cannes is going back to its roots.”
“It’s the only place really you can have an unknown film ... that within a hour of being shown everybody is talking about it ... within a day, a week, it’s the biggest name in arthouse cinema,” he told Reuters.
There are 21 films in the main competition and dozens more vying for other prizes and screening out of competition.