‘Gatsby’ kicks off the 2013 Cannes Film Festival

Jason Fraley, WTOP film critic

WASHINGTON – Hollywood releases the new “Star Trek” flick this Friday. But Paris is already preparing for the Wrath of Cannes.

The 66th annual Cannes Film Festival kicks off today and runs through May 26 in Paris.

The festival opens with Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” which had a better-than-expected box office opening last week despite mixed reviews here in the U.S. I was among those who liked it:

REVIEW: ‘Gatsby’ plays to Generation Baz

It’s a rare case of an American film hitting domestic theaters before Cannes. Typically, films make their world premiere at Cannes, then trickle into American theaters. E.T. (1982), for example, garnered a standing ovation among the Paris crowd. The reaction at Cannes could determine whether ‘Gatsby’ flames out early or picks up steam among the film art community.

Steven Spielberg will head the jury for the main competition, along with judges including Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz.

This year, the competition includes Roman Polanski’s “Venus in Fur” and The Coen Brothers “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Both directors are past winners of the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or: The Coens won for “Barton Fink” (1991), while Polanski won for “The Pianist” (2002).

“Amelie” star Audrey Tautou will host the opening and closing ceremonies.

The festival will also include a Cannes Classics series, in which Kim Novak will present a restored print of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” (1958), recently voted the greatest film of all time.

REVIEW: What makes ‘Vertigo’ so great?

There will also be a 50th-anniversary screening of “Cleopatra” (1963), presented by the daughter of Richard Burton and the son of Elizabeth Taylor.

Perhaps the most fitting screening will be Alain Resnais’ masterpiece “Hiroshima Mon Amour” (1959). It stars a young Emmanuelle Riva, whose “Amour” (2012) won last year’s Palme D’Or, building enough momentum for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Click here for the full Cannes schedule.

Follow WTOP Film Critic Jason Fraley on Twitter @AboveTheJFray or on his blog The Film Spectrum.

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