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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Strike hits Cannes plans
Preparations are continuing for the annual Cannes festival

Cannes is counting down to the start of its annual film festival - despite a strike which has caused havoc to the French transport system.

Flights and trains were suspended on Tuesday as part of a 24-hour strike by public service workers who were protesting against government plans to reform pensions.

The strike is proving a headache for movie executives and film fans heading for the 12-day event, which begins on Wednesday.

Some have been stranded in Paris or elsewhere and forced to take later connections to make the festival.

But many opted to arrive early to relax on the beaches and enjoy the Mediterranean sunshine.

Prize contenders

Relaxing is not an option for the Palme d'Or jury, who will have to judge films by directors including Peter Greenaway and Lars Von Trier during the coming days.

Clint Eastwood's crime drama Mystic River is the main contender, against Greenaway's The Moab Story/The Tulse Luper Suitcase, Von Trier's Dogville - starring Nicole Kidman - and Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny.

The head of the jury, Patrice Chereau, said: "This is going to be 10 days of hard work. I do not, for a minute, underestimate the size of the task."

Cannes is also set to see its share of Hollywood glamour, with Monica Bellucci and Penelope Cruz due to appear on the Palais de Festivals' red carpet.

Outdoor screen

Blockbusters getting Cannes screenings include The Matrix Reloaded, Terminator 3, and the second Tomb Raider movie, The Cradle of Life.

Cruz appears in adventure comedy Fanfan la Tulipe, which will open the festival.

Fans gathered on Monday to watch crowd barriers and lighting gantries being erected for the opening ceremony, while a huge outdoor cinema screen has been erected so fans without invites can enjoy films from the beach.

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