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Kidman film to open Cannes festival

Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Hollywood princess Grace Kelly opens the Cannes Film Festival tonight as some of the biggest names in the movie business head to the south of France for the annual bash.

The biopic, called Grace Of Monaco, stars Kidman as the actress who married Monaco's Prince Rainier, played by Tim Roth.

The pair married after meeting at the festival in 1955, but the film concentrates on her life after the wedding.

The film has been controversial - it has been criticised by the royal family in Monaco - and its release date has been put back am id rumours of behind-the-scenes clashes between the director and studio.

British hopes for the big prize - the prestigious Palme d'Or - are carried by veteran directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.

Leigh's film Mr Turner, a biopic of the painter JMW Turner with his regular collaborator Timothy Spall in the title role, is being screened tomorrow.

Loach's Jimmy's Hall, which is being screened next week, is based on the true story of an Irish communist who ran a dance hall.

Both Loach and Leigh are regulars at the festival and have won its top prize before.

Leigh won the Palme d'Or in 1996 for Secrets And Lies, while another of Loach's films set in Ireland - The Wind That Shakes The Barley - won a decade later.

They are up against 16 other films including Tommy Lee Jones's western The Homesman starring Meryl Streep and Hilary Swank, and wrestling drama Foxcatcher with Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Sienna Miller among the cast.

Michel Hazanavicius, the man behind the Oscar-winning The Artist, is also in competition with his new film The Search.

Other films being shown out of competition include Ned Benson's Eleanor Rigby, which stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, and Ryan Gosling's directorial debut Lost River.

Director Jane Campion, the only woman to have won the Palme d'Or, is leading the festival's jury this year for the competition on the Riviera resort.

Other jury members include actor Willem Dafoe and filmmakers Sofia Coppola and Nicolas Winding Refn.

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