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Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK
Can-can kickstarts Cannes
Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman and Baz Luhrmann
Cannes do: Kidman, McGregor and Luhrmann arrive
Nicole Kidman put her personal problems aside to bring red carpet glamour to the Cannes film festival at the world premiere of her musical Moulin Rouge.

The film, a lavish drama about the cabaret world in 19th century Paris, opened the festival on Wednesday night.

Can-can girls
Can-can girls get proceedings under way
The Australian actress arrived with the film's director Baz Luhrmann, and her co-stars, Ewan McGregor and John Leguizamo.

Kidman showed she had bounced back from the split with husband Tom Cruise and a miscarriage, walking up the famous red carpet and smiling broadly for the delighted crowd.

A parade of can-can girls also put in an appearance before the screening, which attracted guests such as Norman Cook and Zoe Ball.

But things did not go smoothly for the British couple, as Cook, better known as DJ Fatboy Slim, was turned away by security for not wearing the bow tie by the festivals strict dress codes.

But following a little persuasion from Zoe he was allowed into the event.

Proud

At a press conference earlier in the day Kidman had said she was "very proud of this film", brushing aside speculation about her recent separation.

Norman Cook and Zoe Ball
No bow: Fatboy arrives with wife Zoe
She praised "bold and brave" director Baz Luhrmann: "He does it with such a passion that he sweeps everyone along with him.

"I was ready to do anything for him."

Despite the 19th Century setting, the music in the film is an eclectic mix of modern-day pop songs, and the stars do their bit in singing and dancing.

"The songs actually made it easier to act the love story because they extend the emotion and you get lost in it," said Kidman, who also had unstinting praise for her co-star's vocal efforts.

"When Ewan sings to me, it's like magic, and that's exactly what we wanted to do with the film."

McGregor also talked enthusiastically about the music, saying: "I've been waiting all my life to do this kind of singing and dancing - I've always had a passion for the old 1940s musicals.

Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge: An eclectic fusion of old and new
"I drove everyone nuts on the set because I was too excited, I just felt like nobody's done this for years," he said.

McGregor added, "We had an agreement to never ever do anything from the film in public even if we get really drunk - it's just too embarrassing."

There are more than 900 screenings this year at Cannes, most unconnected with the official festival, and as many finished and half-finished scripts floating around in search of a backer.

The 4,000-strong media come for the stars and this year they will get to see Melanie Griffith and husband Antonio Banderas, John Malkovich, Billy Bob Thornton, Cameron Diaz and Emmanuelle Beart.

Other stars, such as Sean Penn and Quentin Tarantino, are expected and others may make surprise appearances.

But the real activity takes place not on the red carpet but in the town's hotel conference rooms and restaurants.

Parties

Many of the films, both independent and more commercial, that will been seen in the coming months and years will take crucial steps towards completion at Cannes.

Photographers at screening of Moulin Rouge
The photographers were out in force
Celebrity parties take up much of the media's attention, from the first, promoting films at both lavish affairs or private gatherings in reclusive villas.

The festival also gives producers the chance to push films soon to be released, hoping to leave an impression on the minds of thousands of journalists and critics present.

While the festival competition focuses on the serious and artistic side of film making, Hollywood blockbusters yet to be released have the chance to grab the headlines.

Billboard posters for Tomb Raider, Jurassic Park 3 and Planet of the Apes dominate the seafront Croisette despite the fact all three films are not even being shown during the festival season.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rebecca Jones
reports from the festival

Festival diary

Films in focus

The lowdown

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TALKING POINT
See also:

09 May 01 | Oscars 2002
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