Wednesday, May 12, 1999 Published at 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Cannes director castigates Nato
Mikhalkov with Julia Ormond and Oleg Menshikov
The Cannes Film Festival has got underway in France - with the conflict in Kosovo taking centre stage after its first day.
"The Nato action is a tragic, tragic error," he told a press conference.
"The United States never fought on its own territory. It never dug trenches on its own land.
"This war will only become concrete when the first coffins head back to the States. Once that happens, then this abstract war will become a real tragedy for real people."
Like a video game
He said many of those giving orders "don't know what they're fighting for - they don't know the difference between a Serb, a Croat, and a Kosovar".
The 53-year-old won an Oscar for best foreign language film in 1995 for Burnt By The Sun, a story of one family's experience of Stalin's repression.
The son of the author of the Soviet national anthem, he has even spoken of running for Russian president. He is a friend of Russia's special envoy to Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomyrdin.
Film premiered at Kremlin
It is the story of a romance between a Russian cadet, played by Oleg Menshikov, and an American woman, played by Julia Ormond, who comes to Russia on behalf of an entrepreneur.
Some are putting this down to the reception many US films met with last year, such as the laughter Bruce Willis' death in Armageddon received at a press screening.
British journalists have been disappointed to find themselves barred from screenings of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Publicists say there will be more opportunities closer to its July release date.
Jury getting ready
The 10-member festival jury is girding itself for its task of watching 22 films during the festival, with its president - controversial Crash director David Cronenberg - promising to keep an open mind.
"I haven't read any of the little summaries on any of the films. I want to walk in and see the film and have no idea what I'm seeing. I'm walking in completely cold," he said.
The jurors will chose who wins the coveted Palme d'Or on 23 May.
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