Canes Johnny Depp-1684220064675
(FILES) US actor Johnny Depp arrives on the red carpet of the 47th Deauville US Film Festival in Deauville, western France, on September 5, 2021. Far from the media buzz around Maïwenn and Johnny Depp, stars of "Jeanne du Barry" which opens the Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2023, this film could not be more "academic, slow, classic", its director admits. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP) Image Credit: AFP

The Cannes red carpet springs to life again Tuesday as the 76th Cannes Film Festival gets underway with the premiere of the Louis XV period drama ‘Jeanne du Barry’, with Johnny Depp.

This year’s festival promises a Cote d’Azur buffet of spectacle, scandal and cinema set to be served over the next 12 days. It’s unspooling against the backdrop of labour unrest. Protests that have roiled France in recent months over changes to its pension system are planned to run during the festival, albeit at a distance from the festival’s main hub.

Meanwhile, an ongoing strike by screenwriters in Hollywood could have unpredictable effects on the French Riviera festival.

But with a festival lined with some much-anticipated big-budget films, including James Mangold’s ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of the Destiny’ and Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, the party is sure to go on, regardless. Stars set to hit Cannes’ red carpet in the next week and a half include Natalie Portman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Sean Penn, Alicia Vikander, the Weeknd and Scarlett Johansson.

Cannes photo13-1684220072354
Police take part in a rehearsal near the red carpet of the Cannes Film Festival red carpet. Image Credit: Reuters

The festivities will include an opening ceremony where Michael Douglas is to receive an honorary Palme d’Or. Later, one will also be dished out to ‘Indiana Jones’ star Harrison Ford. The jury that will decide the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, will also be introduced.

This year, the jury is led by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, a two-time Palme winner who last year won for the social satire ‘The Triangle of Sadness’. The rest of the jury includes Brie Larson, Paul Dano, French director Julia Ducournau, Argentine filmmaker Damián Szifron, Afghan director Atiq Rahimi, French actor Denis Ménochet, Moroccan filmmaker Maryam Tourzani and a Zambian-Welsh director Rungano Nyoni.

The opening night selection has attracted some controversy. ‘Jeanne du Barry’, directed by and co-starring the French actor-director Maïwenn, co-stars Depp as Louis XV. It’s Depp’s first new film since his trial last year with Amber Heard, his ex-wife. After both Depp and Heard accused each other of physical and verbal abuse, a civil jury awarded Depp $10 million in damages and $2 million to Heard.

Cannes photo18-1684220069628
An official poster for the 76th Cannes Film Festival. Image Credit: Reuters

In remarks to the press, Cannes director Thierry Fremaux defended the choice, saying Depp is extraordinary in the film and he paid no attention to the trial.

“To tell you the truth, in my life, I only have one rule, it’s the freedom of thinking, the freedom of speech and the freedom to act within a legal framework,” said Fremaux. “If Johnny Depp had been banned from acting in a film, or the film was banned we wouldn’t be here talking about it.”