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Cannes begins with Grace Of Monaco

The Grace Kelly melodrama Grace Of Monaco has kicked off the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival, with classic French Riviera glamour, behind-the-scenes controversy and emphatic boos from critics.

The Hollywood Reporter called the film "a stiff, stagey, thunderingly earnest affair which has generated far more drama off screen than on".

The film stars Nicole Kidman as Kelly during her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, just an hour's drive down the coast from Cannes.

Grace Of Monaco arrived at the 11-day cinematic extravaganza in southern France amid high-profile disputes.

Director Olivier Dahan has feuded with the Weinstein Company, which is distributing the film in North America, over the final cut.

But after months of public squabble - Dahan criticised Weinstein co-chairman Harvey Weinstein in the French press - the two sides swept their differences under the red carpet today. After twice postponing its US release, the Weinstein Company will distribute Dahan's version, albeit for a lesser fee.

"There is only one version of the film," Dahan said, adding that any changes would be made mutually. "There is no longer any dispute. We work well together."

Grace Of Monaco screened for the press early today ahead of its evening premiere and was met with some of the worst reviews for a Cannes opener.

Reporters had wondered if Weinstein would spurn the premiere, causing him to issue a statement saying he was travelling on a long-planned trip. He wished Dahan and the cast "all the best" for the screening.

Princess Stephanie of Monaco has criticised the film about her parents as inaccurate - it is labelled "a fictional account inspired by real events - and has refused to see the movie, judging it by its script.

Kidman called the circumstance "awkward."

"Obviously I feel sad because I think the film has no malice toward the family," said Kidman.

The festival jury, which decides the prestigious Palme d'Or award, is headed this year by Jane Champion, the only female filmmaker to win the Palme, for The Piano in 1993.

Last year, it went to the erotic French coming-of-age tale Blue Is the Warmest Colour. In a first, Steven Spielberg's jury awarded the Palme not just to the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, but also to its two stars, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux.

This year brings a selection of 18 films somewhat light on Hollywood, but heavy on world-class auteurs, including Jean-Luc Godard, Ken Loach, the Dardenne brothers, Mike Leigh and Michel Hazanavicius, returning to where his film The Artist became a sensation.

Two films come from Americans: the Olympic wrestler drama Foxcatcher, by Bennett Miller, starring Channing Tatum and Steve Carell; and the western The Homesman, the second directing effort from Tommy Lee Jones.

Canadian filmmakers outnumber their North American neighbours: David Cronenberg's Maps To The Stars, Atom Egoyan's The Captives and Xavier Dolan's Mommy.

Films in competition will bring a bevy of A-listers, including both former Twilight co-stars Robert Pattinson in Maps To The Stars and Kristen Stewart in Olivier Assayas' Clouds Of Sils Maria. Ryan Gosling will also present his directorial debut, Lost River, in the Un Certain Regard section.

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