The great and good of the global film industry are gathered on the French Riviera for the 61st Cannes Film Festival.
BBC News entertainment reporter Mark Savage is with them to follow the sights, sounds and smells of one of cinema's biggest events.
THURSDAY, 22 MAY 1835 LOCAL TIME (1735 BST)
Sadly, the curtain has fallen on my time in Cannes.
There are still a few events to come - I'm sorry to be missing the premiere of Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York tonight and the awards ceremony on Sunday - but most of the business of the festival is done and dusted now.
Looking back over the last two weeks, there are still a few questions on my mind. Such as:
1) In Blindness, how did Julianne Moore retain her sight when everyone else in the world
2) How come nobody told me about the free coffee at the Palais de Festival until my eighth (eighth!) day here?
3) Why were certain critics so snooty about Indiana Jones. It's not like the original trilogy screamed "intellectual masterpiece".
Before I go, thanks to all of you for stopping by to read my ramblings. Yes, even the ones who sent me to Che last night (do you realise that I have your e-mail addresses now?)
And, last but not least, thanks to Mischa Barton for playing a massive fortnight-long game of hide and seek...
I always preferred Rachel Bilson, anyway.
THURSDAY, 22 MAY 1530 LOCAL TIME (1430 BST)
Disaster! I have failed to get into Quentin Tarantino's film masterclass, despite queuing in the blistering sun for more than an hour.
Ah well, at least I won't be tempted to stay 'til the end and miss my flight back home..
In the meantime, I've had a quick chat with Mark Damon - a spaghetti western actor turned movie mogul, who produced films such as Das Boot, 9 1/2 Weeks, Monster and The NeverEnding Story.
He's in Cannes to do business, but also to promote his autobiography From Cowboy to Mogul to Monster.
Inside, Damon claims responsibility for Clint Eastwood's film career. The star's agent advised him not to take a role in Sergio Leone's Fistful of Dollars, saying: "You absolutely cannot play a heavy in a picture with a third-rate director who's only done one movie."
Feeling sorry for the Italian director, he mentioned Eastwood's name and set up a meeting between the two at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Hollywood.
"At the end of their meeting, they made a deal on a paper napkin for Clint to get $15,000 dollars as the star," he says in the book.
Earlier this week, Damon tells me, he bumped into Eastwood at one of Cannes many parties. And what was the Oscar-winning star's opening gambit?
"Mark, this is all your fault!"
THURSDAY, 22 MAY 1500 LOCAL TIME (1300 BST)
Friday marks the first prize-giving ceremony of the week: The Palm Dog.
No, that's not a typo. The Palm Dog is an annual award for the best canine (shouldn't that be Cannes-ine?) performance of the film festival.
Okay so, technically, it's not part of the main event - but the award's mascot, Mutley, met film stars including Steven Spielberg, Tilda Swinton and, er, Martine McCutcheon before he sadly passed away in April this year.
Dogs have not been short of screen time at this year's festival - with puppy performances in films such as Linha De Passe, Wendy and Lucy and Diamond Dog Caper (the clue's in the title).
But the front-runner for this year's prize is almost certainly the dog which plants a sopping great kiss on Julianne Moore's face in the opening moments of Blindness.
The winner is announced tomorrow, by which time I'll be long gone. But you can follow the news on
THURSDAY, 22 MAY 0945 LOCAL TIME (0845 BST)
So, while I was developing deep vein thrombosis at the Che screening, my partner-in-crime Sophie Van Brugen was hob-nobbing it with Madonna.
In Sophie's own words, the superstar was "short but amazing", dressed in a black beaded dress and teetering around in high heels.
After entering the auditorium hand-in-hand with Guy Ritchie, she gave a heartfelt introduction to her movie, I Am Because We Are - a documentary about orphans and Aids in Malawi.
But she walked out before the film ended.
To fair, though, I didn't stick with Che right to the bitter end as my stomach was grumbling so loudly other journalists were beginning to tut.
My hopes of staving off hunger had been raised by the presence of a goody bag during the intermission.
Ooh, what delights could possibly contained inside this beguiling promotional "item"?
Quentin Tarantino is now in Cannes
THURSDAY, 22 MAY 0930 LOCAL TIME (0830 BST)
I may be in the minority here, but Steven Soderbergh's Che did next to nothing for me.
The film stars an amazingly charismatic actor, Benicio Del Toro, playing one of the most venerated political leaders of the 20th Century, yet the whole thing is oddly detached and dispassionate.
We never learn why this man, who trained as a doctor, forgoes compassion to advocate guerrilla warfare and revolution.
The motives and consequences of his actions - be they medical or military - are never explained, and we are left with a four-and-a-half portrait of a man that tells us next to nothing. Not even where he got that fantastic beret.
Given Soderbergh's undeniable talent, this can only have been a deliberate decision. Is he saying that no-one could ever really know this inscrutable figure? Or, perhaps, that the myth has consumed the man? We will have to wait until Thursday's press conference to find out.
We got hundreds of e-mails from all over the world - so here's what they had to say....
Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek answer viewers' questions
WEDNESDAY, 21 MAY 1815 LOCAL TIME (1715 BST)
You have made your decision and, despite my subtle attempts to sway your votes, I am going to see Che.
To quote Emma from London: "Madonna is poison to celluloid, don't bother."
But don't worry, fans of Esther - we have other people willing to endure the material girl's latest cinematic opus.
In the meantime, I will be entering a cinema at 1730 BST and not leaving for five whole hours.
I hope you are all very pleased with yourselves.
WEDNESDAY, 21 MAY 1600 LOCAL TIME (1500 BST)
It's Mischa time again...
BBC Radio 1's Natalie Jamieson spoke to the director of her new movie, Roland Joffe (yes, the same Roland Joffe who made The Killing Fields) last week.
He was at a loss to explain why his star had pulled out of interviews for the film.
"She hasn't pulled out of interviews, she's pulled out of everything," he said. "We don't know where Mischa Barton is!
"All I can say is her room is here, she is here, but trying to get the two together has just been impossible. We just don't know where Mischa is.
But he wasn't too angered by the vanishing act. "Mischa's 21," he said.
"I have no idea where she is, but sometimes I don't know where my 21-year-old daughter is as well."
Russian pop group taTu - who are still going, apparently - star alongside Barton in the film. Describing their movie debut, they gave us the quote of the festival.
"Is not lesbian film," said the duo. "Is love film."
WEDNESDAY, 21 MAY 1220 LOCAL TIME (1120 BST)
It's been a couple of days since I've responded to your e-mails, which is very remiss of me.
So, with great apologies, here's a roundup of responses.
: Cannes certainly isn't all about Indiana Jones but Sunday was. I hope you've enjoyed the rest of the coverage.
: Mark Kermode is staying in the same hotel as me. Our rooms are exactly the same in every respect, except I got a loofah and he didn't.
: I'm afraid I can't fix you up with tickets, but there are still opportunities to get into screenings here. Delegates who don't use their allocated tickets get penalised when next year's festival around, so you can often grab one if you ask the right person.
: I hope you saw the mini story I wrote about Wong Kar Wai on Monday. If not, just scroll down this page a little.
: I've been trying to get in to see Atom Egoyan's Adoration on your behalf, but other things keep getting in the way. If I don't manage it before I leave, I'll see if I can get someone else's opinion.
: I didn't ask Angelina Jolie about her cravings for mustard-coated onion rings. I am a serious news journalist with the BBC's reputation to uphold. I also have a sneaking suspicion that you're my dad writing under a pseudonym.
Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Clint eastwood on the red carpet
WEDNESDAY, 21 MAY 0925 LOCAL TIME (0825 BST)
I have an ethical dilemma over my evening plans tonight. On one hand, I could go to see Che - a buzzworthy biopic that has been called Steven Soderbergh's Godfather.
On the other, I could attend a screening of Madonna's Malawi orphan documentary I Am Because We Are, attended by the Queen of Pop herself.
Now, I'm a big film fan, but I'm an even bigger fan of 49-year-old ladies in leotards (we all have our peccadillos, and it's not your place to question mine). Which invitation should I accept?
Use the form at the bottom of the page to help me weigh up the pros and cons...
TUESDAY, 20 MAY 1845 LOCAL TIME (1745 BST)
We have Mischa Barton news!!!!
The errant actress is, we're told, now in London, having singularly failed to do anything to help promote her film in Cannes last week.
She's in the UK to launch (wait for it...) a handbag! Oscar Wilde would be proud.
Her PR has told Radio 1 that Barton will do an interview, but on one condition - that they only ask questions about handbags.
Now that we've seen a trailer for her film, and heard her Russian accent ("I von a beauuuty competition vonce") we can maybe understand the reluctance to talk about it.
It's now the eighth day of the festival, and the mercury in the critical thermometer is slowly starting to settle. I rounded up nine critics (basically, anyone who would answer their phone or stop to talk to a crazed Irishman with a notepad) and asked them about their favourite films so far. Here's what they had to say.
DAMON WISE - Empire Magazine
, UK Best film so far:
Tyson, a documentary about the troubled boxer Palme D'Or prediction:
Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone's mafia drama
"There's something about it I think might appeal to Sean Penn. It might not get the Palme D'Or, but I think there'll be some sort of prize."
EDUARDO VALENTINE - Cinetica
, Brazil Best film so far
: Two Lovers Palme D'Or prediction
"It's been a very balanced competition. I think the jury will have very different favourites."
PETER BRADSHAW- Guardian
, UK Best film so far
: Of Time and the City, Terence Davies' cinematic love letter to Liverpool
"At least partly because it made me laugh." Palme D'Or prediction
: Waltz With Bashir
, Ari Folman's Ari Folman's animated documentary about the 1982 Lebanon war
"An important film on a strangely neglected subject. "
DAVID GRIBBEN - Daily Telegraph
, UK Best film so far
: Of Time and the City Palme D'Or prediction
: Linha de Passe, Walter Salles' Brazilian family drama
"But I haven't seen all of them. There have been a few disappointments."
JO UTICHI Rotten Tomatoes
, Online Best film so far
: Of Time And The City
"It's very nostalgic - You get a very British feeling from the film" Palme D'Or prediction
"I have no idea, to be honest, nothing has leapt out to me as a Palme D'Or contender".
FIONNUALA HALLIGAN, Screen International
, International Best film so far
: Waltz with Bashir or Gomorrah Palme D'Or prediction
: Waltz with Bashir
"It would be a controversial and political decision, especially as there is an Israeli member of the jury, but there is a chairman who is not afraid of making political statements."
ERIC KOHN - New York Press
, USA Best film so far
: De La Guerre, a Matthieu Almaric-starring drama playing in the director's fortnight Palme D'Or prediction
"There seems to be a really good buzz about it. Stephen Soderbergh represents these two polar opposites, last year he was here with Ocean's 13 and now he's got this four-hour-long film in Spanish."
SYLVIAN RIVAUD - Cinezik
, France Best film so far
: Waltz with Bashir Palme D'Or prediction
: Waltz with Bashir
SCARLETT PAN - Netease
, China Best film so far
: Tokyo Sonata Palme D'Or prediction
: The Silence of Lorna
"I haven't been able to see it yet, but I've heard great things."
So, the consensus so far is Waltz With Bashir for the Palme D'Or. You heard it here first.
TUESDAY, 20 MAY 1600 LOCAL TIME (1500 BST)
Spike Lee seemed to be in good form when we arrived to interview him on the beachfront. Nonetheless, my heart was pounding as I broached the comments he'd made about Clint Eastwood at the press conference earlier.
"Why do you think films like Flags of our Fathers and Saving Private Ryan have ignored the African-American contribution to the war effort," I asked.
Here, in full, is his reply.
I shouldn't have to comment on other film-makers. Woody Allen does all these films about Manhattan and everybody was white and living on the upper East side and have you guys ever questioned Woody Allen about that? It's your job. I'm not going to comment on it. If you see stuff, don't ask me to comment on it when you had the guy in front of your face. You gotta do your job. I cannot speak for Steven Spielberg, I can't speak for Clint Eastwood, I can't speak for Woody Allen. If you see stuff in their films, ask them. Don't ask me. I don't mean to jump on you - but if you got the courage to ask me, you gotta ask them.
That's me told.
TUESDAY, 20 MAY 1115 LOCAL TIME (1015 BST)
Joffe's film stars Russian pop duo taTu
Spike Lee is in town today with clips from his latest project, Miracle at St. Anna , which he says will show the forgotten contribution of African-American soldiers in World War II.
He's just held a press conference in which he criticised Clint Eastwood for not including enough black faces in his 2006 World War II film Flags of our Fathers.
Sporting a Barack Obama t-shirt, the controversial director also said America had not "got a war right" since 1945.
I'm interviewing Lee in the next hour - so I'll see if I can get him to expand on those comments.
TUESDAY, 20 MAY 1045 LOCAL TIME (0945 BST)
One of the interesting things about Cannes is that half of the delegates (including me) leave before the closing ceremony and prize-giving on Sunday.
People have already started to pull out this morning, despite the high-profile films like Clint Eastwood's Changeling showing around the city.
But, according to today's Variety, more than a few are hanging back to catch the first glimpse of Steven Soderbergh's two-part four-hour epic on Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.
The film currently has no distributor in the US as Warner Brothers, for whom Soderbergh delivered hits like Erin Brokovich and Ocean's 11, passed on the project, which eventually found its $61.5m (£31.4m) budget in France and Spain.
Variety says the likes of Harvey Weinstein have been lobbying to see the film before tomorrow's screening, to no avail. It looks like we'll all be seeing the buzzworthy biopic at the same time.
MONDAY, 19 MAY 2348 LOCAL TIME (2248 BST)
Mark Ronson and Jade Jagger were out on the town tonight to celebrate, well, just being in Cannes I think.
There was stiff competition from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who were hosting their own party too, but we ended up at the BBC Film soiree, which was jammed to the rafters with... Marines. Nobody could quite ascertain why.
But we bumped into comedian Ben Miller, who told us he was one of the 500 people who tried and failed to get in to the Indiana Jones premiere on Sunday.
And he mentioned that his ITV mockumentary Moving Wallpaper had been recommissioned for a second series - without, to the best of his knowledge, the accompanying soap opera Echo Beach.
Miller also recommended the gazpacho soup. We tried it. It was rubbish.
MONDAY, 19 MAY 1821 LOCAL TIME (1721 BST)
What's it like to be filming the red carpet in Cannes? Our intrepid video journalist Sophie van Brugen reveals the secrets of last night's Indiana Jones premiere.
I was about a metre away from Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett and, yes, they really do look that good up close.
But it was like no other red carpet that I've ever been to. You could literally feel the sound and the flash of the cameras in your chest.
There was nearly a punch-up between two photographers trying to take a picture of Harrison Ford, and I got pushed off the podium by an Italian photographer who got slightly over-excited. (Sophie, the office polyglot, screamed a few choice Italian phrases back in his face, much to his evident embarrassment.)
Towards the end, the organisers accidentally let the cordons down too early - only for Linda Evangelista to arrive onto the red carpet. The cameramen were circling her like birds of prey, and for a moment she looked frightened for her life.
All in all it was an amazing experience, but not one I'd like to repeat in the near future.
Desperate fans try to get Indiana Jones tickets
MONDAY, 19 MAY 1810 LOCAL TIME (1710 BST)
Wong Kar Wai is showing a reworked version of his film
The Cannes festival has certain favoured sons (and they're always sons, never daughters) - the likes of the Dardennes Brothers, Wim Wenders and Quentin Tarantino, all of whom are frequent visitors to the Cote d'Azur.
Also among them is acclaimed Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai, whose My Blueberry Nights was the opening film at last year's event.
This time around, he is showing off a reworked version of his underappreciated 1994 martial arts film Ashes Of Time.
After a screening last night, the director and his long-term cinematographer Christopher Doyle gave a spirited press conference which delved into their partnership and film-making techniques.
Spike Lee offers his support for Barack Obama, in Cannes
Doyle admitted that many of their stylistic innovations were, in fact, "screw-ups".
"For example, on Fallen Angels, the film stock was messed up so we printed it in black and white and that became a reference for certain aspects of the film," he said.
Wong revealed that he had never watched back many of his films because he would be tempted to tinker. "I know that once I open this Pandora's Box it's going to be a never ending story," he joked.
And Doyle gave away the formula for his successful relationship with the director.
"Beer. Beer and patience."
MONDAY, 19 MAY 1515 LOCAL TIME (1415 BST)
The UK's culture minister Margaret Hodge is in Cannes today to meet her counterparts from the European Union.
The delegates are discussing "ways of enhancing the links between professionals and collaborators with other countries or regions across the world" (it says here).
But I was more interested in her impressions of the films in Cannes. She saw mafia film Gomorra last night, which was a "bit gruesome" and she was keen to catch Woody Allen's latest.
I asked if she wanted to invite Allen back to the UK to make more films - given that the Spanish government had implored the director to write a film based in Barcelona.
"I'm a great Woody Allen fan so I'd like him to make more of his films in the UK," she said. "And Sam Mendes, another new Sam Mendes film in the UK would be a treat for us all.
"And, of course, if Spielberg chose to make his next film here, I'd be delighted."
MONDAY, 19 MAY 1220 LOCAL TIME (1120 BST)
Things are a lot more calm in Cannes today, as Indy swings out and the focus returns to the competition for the Palme D'Or.
Ashes of Time was made in 1994
I had another early start to catch up with one of those films - Walter Salles' Linha De Passe.
It paints a vivid picture of the chaos in urban Brazil as it sketches the lives of four young brothers and their pregnant mother, who have little or no hope of breaking out of the cycle of poverty.
One dreams of becoming a professional footballer, another of driving a bus. One turns to the church, while another pursues a life of crime.
Where it could have been bleak, the multi-threaded story is engrossing - with a largely amateur cast delivering refreshingly authentic performances.
The reviews here in Cannes have been largely positive, making Salles and co-director Daniela Thomas frontrunners for the festival's main prize.
But we still have Steven Soderbergh's Che Guevara epic and Clint Eastwood's Changeling to come. And, with Eastwood's film starring Angelina Jolie (or "Cannejelina" as we heard one reporter call her last week), the pace is bound to mount as the week continues.
SUNDAY, 18 MAY 1915 LOCAL TIME (1815 BST)
Indy day is drawing to a close with the stars slowly making their way down the red carpet.
Stars on the red carpet at the Indiana Jones premiere
Harrison's here with Calista Flockhart, sporting that earring he's taken to wearing recently.
But the biggest surprise was Kelly Brook, who arrived hand in hand with Billy Zane. No sign of the engagement ring she supposedly gave back a couple of months ago, however.
Even more amorous was Christian Slater, who locked lips with Jimmy Choo founder Tamara Mellon in front of the cameras.
Now that's not very gentlemanly behaviour, is it?
SUNDAY, 18 MAY 1815 LOCAL TIME (1715 BST)
If you've been reading this page and my review, you'll know that I very much enjoyed the new Indiana Jones movie. But what does the rest of the world think? Let's have a look.
It's not that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, exhumed after 19 years to be the fourth in this series, is bad, exactly. But it's undeniably creaky.
The blue queue opened first, then the pink queue was merged to the blue, then they decided to open the pink queue after all. There was A LOT OF SHOUTING.
We were at the front, so luckily we had nothing to worry about.
They even let us walk up the red carpet. Let's hope the film is worth the wait. Check back at 1430 GMT for my instant one-line review!
SUNDAY, 18 MAY 1200 LOCAL TIME (1100 BST)
Our little BBC unit has been wrenched apart by Cannes bureaucracy.
Natalie and I have pink press passes, which are medium priority here at the festival, but Andy (our camera man) is a lowly blue. We've now been sorted into separate queues, communicating only by texts and obscene hand gestures.
Only an hour to go!
SUNDAY, 18 MAY 1150 LOCAL TIME (1050 BST)
The BBC's Natalie Jamieson and Mark Savage walk the red carpet
The queue is starting to build up in earnest now, surrounded by Indy fans hoping to score a spare pass from the invited. Among them is Amelia, a student who has travelled all the way from Georgia, USA.
"This is the big one," she says.
Meanwhile, Natalie is calling in to Radio 5 Live with regular updates, and we're both enjoying your e-mails of support.
Special thanks to Penelope who asked with great concern whether we had enough coffee to endure the wait.
Unfortunately, no. But Natalie has a cheese sandwich, which I'm eyeing up jealously.
Keep the e-mails coming - the address is
(other free e-mail providers are available).
SUNDAY, 18 MAY 1030 LOCAL TIME (0930 BST)
Well, the good news is that we're right at the head of the queue. The bad news is that there is a great deal of confusion about who exactly this screening is for...
Linha De Passe is a contender for the Palme D'Or
Originally it was billed as a press screening. Today's festival programme says it is "invitation only". The officials at the festival aren't too sure what the situation is, and neither are we! But hopefully our passes will get us into the cinema!
In the meantime, we're soaking up the sun and looking on with amazement at the radio-controlled zeppelin that has arrived at the red carpet for tonight's premiere.
They've attached a camera to the bottom of it and are practicing their shots for the arrival of Harrison, Calista, Cate and all the other celebs who have schlepped over to Cannes for the premiere.
SATURDAY, 17 MAY 2045 LOCAL TIME (1945 BST)
Tomorrow is the big Indiana Jones premiere here in Cannes. But before the celebrities walk the red carpet in the evening, the press get to see the film at 1300 local time (1200 GMT) in the magical atmosphere of the Grand Theatre Lumiere.
Inside, there are an amazing 2,246 seats. But, according to the official festival website, there are more than 4,000 journalists milling around the festival. Not to mention all the other delegates, distributors, actors and producers who want to catch the first glimpse of that famous fedora.
As a result, I'm setting up shop on the red carpet at 0900 tomorrow morning, just to make sure I get in. With me will be Radio 1's entertainment reporter Natalie Jamieson, who plans to be on air throughout the morning.
I'll be filing updates to the reporter's log as we wait, so you can share the tedium
excitement with me. If you'd like to get in touch, or if there's something you want to know, e-mail us on
and we'll do our best to oblige.
Unless it has anything to do with snakes. I hate snakes, Jock, I hate 'em.
SATURDAY, 17 MAY 1830 LOCAL TIME (1730 BST)
Iron Maiden star Bruce Dickinson jetted into Cannes today behind the controls of "Flight 666". The singer and sometime pilot is here to promote his self-penned, censor-baiting horror film Chemical Wedding.
The film has something to do with resurrecting notorious occultist Aleister Crowley in modern day Cambridge using a virtual reality suit and a ZX spectrum - although, to be honest, I wasn't paying much attention so that summary could be wildly misleading.
After landing in Nice, Dickinson was due to make a grand entrance at the Palais de Festivals after arriving in a luxury coach with the cast and crew of the film, an assortment of goths in top hats, and burlesque dancer Esme Bianco.
Except Mike Tyson was at the Palais for a press conference and the roads were jammed. So Bruce and his entourage parked at the train station and slowly made their way through the back streets of Cannes.
Needless to say, it was amazing.
Bruce Dickinson's journey from hell
SATURDAY, 17 MAY 1730 LOCAL TIME (1630 BST)
One of the perils of Cannes is conducting interviews without having seen the film you're talking about.
Will Amelia make it into the screening?
This is especially true for the festival's highest profile film, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. The interviews are today, but the first press screening is tomorrow.
My TV colleague Razia Iqbal has just got back from interviewing Cate Blanchett, who immediately had an admission to make.
"You haven't seen it. I haven't seen it," she said. "Between us, we could make the whole thing up."
You can see Razia's interviews with stars of Indy 4 all day tomorrow on BBC News.
SATURDAY, 17 MAY 1520 LOCAL TIME (1420 BST)
Dustin Hoffman speaking in a British accent
Dustin Hoffman was so overwhelmed to be speaking to the BBC yesterday that he decided to answer questions in a plummy British accent.
He was speaking about voicing a character in animated adventure Kung Fu Panda.
Well, I suppose it's better than Dick Van Dyke...
SATURDAY, 17 MAY 1410 LOCAL TIME (1310 BST)
I've just come back from the most refreshingly intelligent and thought-provoking interview of my five days in Cannes.
I was speaking to the cast and director of The Lena Baker Story - which tells the real-life tale of the first woman to be sent to the electric chair in Georgia, USA, for killing an abusive employer who forced her into sexual slavery.
Peter Coyote (from the likes of ET and Erin Brokovich) plays that employer, while Beverly Todd (Crash, The Bucket List) plays Lena's mother.
Along with director Ralph Wilcox, we had a very frank discussion about how films frequently oversimplify their portrayal of America's racial history.
The movie was shot in Georgia, not an epicentre of film-making by any stretch of the imagination, but things went so well that Wilcox and his fiancee have established a training program to for young people in Atlanta - creating a nascent film industry in the Deep South.
The rest of my day is going to be absorbed by a Woody Allen press conference and an interview with Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson (he's flying himself in on his own jet, Ed Force One). But I hope to write a full feature on this fascinating, powerful film at the beginning of next week.
Keep your eyes peeled!
SATURDAY, 17 MAY 1130 LOCAL TIME (1030 BST)
Back in 2001, soul superstar Mariah Carey had a bit of a funny turn in the wake of releasing her box office flop Glitter - a film which put the word corny into, erm... popcorny.
The new Indiana Jones film will be premiered at Cannes on Sunday
"Carey can act after a fashion, though dialogue gives her trouble," noted TV Guide magazine in the US.
Well, despite that setback, the singer has ventured back onto the silver screen in a movie called Tennessee and, with a low-key Cannes premiere last night, there was really no other option for our evening's entertainment.
Tennessee is a good old-fashioned road movie, where travelling along an actual highway is a metaphor for making progress along your personal journey of life.
Mariah plays a waitress who - would you believe it? - wants to break into music. She gets picked up by the film's heroes and accompanies them to Nashville, where they hope to find their estranged father.
Amazingly, Mariah is the best thing in it. Her understated, downbeat performance is so natural that pretty soon you stop wondering whether Busta Rhymes will pop up for a guest rap.
And for someone famed as an image-obsessed diva, Carey has no problem playing a character who dresses down in dowdy clothes with greasy, tousled hair. She even carries a little extra weight compared to her normal svelte image.
Carey is so good, in fact, that the film feels rather flat when she's off-screen. The denouement, which is presumably supposed to be a heart-rending tear-jerker, kind of passed me by.
Maybe we wrote Carey's film career off too soon?
FRIDAY, 16 MAY 1448 LOCAL TIME (1358 BST)
I'm in between interviews at the Kung Fu Panda junket (yes, it's still going on).
Mariah Carey makes her acting comeback as a waitress in Tennessee
We won't get to speak to Angelina Jolie, but one of the press officers describes her situation as a living nightmare.
She and Brad Pitt, he tells me, are prisoners in their own apartment.
"They can't even leave for coffee. They have to have their clothes brought to them in a car." (Didn't they pack a suitcase?)
Jack Black meanwhile maintains he's not in Angelina's bad books after announcing she was expecting twins.
"I don't think I slipped up," he says. "Hadn't you heard they were twins?"
FRIDAY, 16 MAY 1305 LOCAL TIME (1205 BST)
The Mischa Barton Mystery deepens...
We spotted her at a party for Simon Pegg's How To Lose Friends and Alienate People last night, so she's definitely here.
But a series of interviews for her film this afternoon have been cancelled.
Instead, we're told, Russian popstars taTu will be there. Should I go along?
FRIDAY, 16 MAY 1145 LOCAL TIME (1045 BST)
I braved the grey early morning (and a pair of very bleary eyes) to catch the 0830 showing of Arnaud Desplechin's latest film, Un Conte De Noel.
Pitt and Jolie managed to escape from their apartment for a premiere
It's a classic French family drama - lots of talking, heavy on the philosophy - but that's no bad thing in my book.
Catherine Deneuve stars as Junon, a radiant matriarch whose first child died of a rare blood disorder at the age of six, throwing relations with her other children into turmoil.
Things are particularly strained with Henri, the son she had in the fruitless hope his bone marrow could save his brother. Things get worse for Henri when his wife dies, and his sister banishes him from the family fold. Mathieu Almaric brings the character to life with a bravura performance that perfectly balances desperation and humour.
But the family is forced back together when Junon, too, is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
As with all great family sagas (I was reminded of Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums), things unravel when the siblings gather under duress. Among the standout scenes are Henri scaling a wall to escape his sister, and a Christmas play which shows that two of Junon's grandchildren have been absorbing the adult tensions around them.
At two-and-a-half hours, it is perhaps a little overlong, but it is by many miles the best film of the festival so far.
THURSDAY, 15 MAY 2200 LOCAL TIME (2100 BST)
I've been sent to see a film about a six-foot tall monster, Gooby
No one left the cinema, which I suppose is a good thing
THURSDAY, 15 MAY 1900 LOCAL TIME (1800 BST)
Rachel Leigh Cook on partying and jet lag
Earlier today, I met up with Stuff Magazine's official 26th most sexy woman in the world 2002, Rachael Leigh Cook.
She's in town with an American comedy, Bob Funk, which to my eyes is the first US attempt to convert the misanthropic humour of The Office to the big screen.
The titular main character is a disillusioned, borderline alcoholic, futon salesman who gets demoted by his own mother. Cook is Ms Thorne, an attractive young woman brought in to replace the errant hero.
The role is far removed from her teen-friendly Hollywood stints in the likes of Josie and the Pussycats and She's All That, but the actress said she had decided to take smaller, more interesting roles in recent years.
She's also getting involved behind the camera, helping her husband drum up funds for a film during Cannes fortnight, and optioning a script, Eddie and the Jets, to produce herself.
But, like any right-minded individual, she jumped at the chance to attend the Indiana Jones premiere on Sunday night.
"Will we get good seats? I think we will. I just hope we don't get sat behind someone with really big hair, cos I'm pretty short."
After the interview, we agreed that, should I fail to get a place at the solitary press screening of Indy earlier in the day, Cook would review the film for the BBC. Big hair permitting.
THURSDAY, 15 MAY 1740 LOCAL TIME (1640 BST)
Catherine Deneuve plays radiant matriarch Junon in Un Conte De Noel
Where is Mischa Barton?
The OC star and notorious LA partygoer was last seen on the red carpet last night.
But, with a film to promote in Cannes tomorrow, some people are saying she's already packed up and gone home.
"Mischa Barton? Who's she?" says one PR officer who is supposed to be looking after her film, You and I, from former Palme D'Or winner Roland Joffé.
But a more senior source plays down the rumours.
"She's my client and I know exactly where she is," we are told.
We'll be waiting with baited breath to see what happens at Barton's first official engagement, a photocall on the beach tomorrow morning.
THURSDAY, 15 MAY 1145 LOCAL TIME (1045 BST)
Kelly Rowland drops in for a chat
A bit of glamour has just hit the BBC office, as Destiny's Child star Kelly Rowland dropped in for a chat with our colleagues at Radio One's Newsbeat.
The R&B singer revealed that she auditioned for the Sex and the City movie. And even though she didn't get the part, she loved the film when she went to the US premiere. "It's geeeenius," she enthused.
Rowland hasn't made it to any of Cannes' glittering parties yet ("my first priority is right now food, I want something simple like eggs and toast") but that comes as a relief to her bodyguard - confusingly also called Kelly.
"There are people everywhere and lots of alcohol," he told me, "I don't really enjoy them."
THURSDAY, 15 MAY 1030 LOCAL TIME (0930 BST)
Tonight, I'm at your mercy. I'm heading to the Marché du Film, where all the business of Cannes takes place.
Around 2,000 films are shown at the market during the festival, all looking for buyers and distributors.
I have a choice of three screenings to attend, and you can choose where I end up. Here are the choices.
1) A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures - a UK documentary with an intriguing title.
2) Gooby - the story of a young boy whose cuddly toy comes to life as a six-foot tall monster, with Robbie Coltrane.
3) My Life In Ruins - A new comedy from the creators of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, probably my least favourite movie of all time.
So, make your choice using the postform at the bottom of the page and check back tomorrow morning to see where I ended up.
WEDNESDAY, 14 MAY 1730 LOCAL TIME (1630 BST)
It's the opening night and everyone is dressed up, with many still trying to get hold of a ticket.
'Look mum, I'm on telly'
WEDNESDAY, 14 MAY 1545 LOCAL TIME (1445 BST)
Sean Penn (third right) will chair this year's competition jury
The jury press conference has just taken place - and with Sean Penn at the helm, things were more than interesting.
He was asked why, when he was reluctant to acknowledge awards like the Oscars, he had agreed to lead the Palme D'Or panel.
"Because finally somebody with the discernment to choose right is on the jury," was his tongue-in-cheek answer.
An MTV journalist recalled Penn had given an interview admitting to being reluctant to take the position of president because he would have to be "wise and sober for 12 days".
"Could you explain if that's true and why you changed your mind?" she asked.
His reply: "How many days have I got left?"
WEDNESDAY, 14 MAY 1430 LOCAL TIME (1330 BST)
Jack Black has just zoomed into Cannes surrounded by a veritable army of Pandas (what is the collective noun for Pandas, please? Answers on a postcard to the usual address).
Jack Black was joined by nearly 40 Pandas to start the film festival
The comedian is here to promote Kung Fu Panda, a riotous hour-and-a-half of family animation from DreamWorks.
The star was in typically ebullient form, showing off a few kung fu moves of his own and discussing the foie gras lollipop he ate last night (it was covered in fig juice, apparently).
His co-stars Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu and Angelina Jolie are due in Cannes later this week for the film's premiere.
WEDNESDAY, 14 MAY 1330 LOCAL TIME (1230 BST)
I've just seen my first film of the festival, Blindness.
Julianne Moore is in Cannes to promote her film Blindness
Starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Julianne Moore, the harrowing drama sees society torn to shreds after people's vision mysteriously whites out.
A lot of the audience spent the first half an hour rubbing their eyes - either worried they'd go blind too, or a little worse for wear after their first night in Cannes.
Off to the press conference now...
WEDNESDAY, 14 MAY 0130 LOCAL TIME (0030 BST)
Just got back to my hotel after a hectic day tracking down press officers and receiving my hallowed Cannes press card - which gives me all sorts of insane privileges that I have sworn never to divulge in public...
Oh, okay - I got a shabby satchel and a temporary post box at the Palais de Festivals. Happy now?
Thanks for all your comments at the bottom of the page. To answer a couple of questions:
Mark: We're due to speak to Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford on Saturday. Most likely, my TV colleague Razia Iqbal will conduct the interviews but you'll get to hear all about it on the website. I'll try to grab a word with the cast on the red carpet, too.
David: Hope you enjoy the hustle and bustle of Cannes during the festival. Just don't try to get a taxi - they only have 100 for the whole town! And you might actually get to see a film or two if you're prepared to queue. Some screenings are open to the public.
Shilo: You'd be surprised at how well-protected the celebs are at a big industry bash like Cannes, but if you hang around in the right hotel lobbies you might catch a glimpse of Branjelina or Spielucas (that second one doesn't work too well, does it?). I hear the Majestic plays host to a few of the A-listers.
Giancinto: Gomorra is receiving a lot of buzz already here in Cannes, although it has the misfortune to be scheduled against Indiana Jones in the official programme! I'll try to catch it later in the week if I can.
Christine: I'm really excited about the Quentin Tarantino masterclass, too. It takes place on Thursday, 22 May, and I'm hoping to make it the last event I attend before my flight home. Keep your eyes peeled.
Do keep sending your comments (good or bad) using the form at the bottom of the page... The duty free requests are being noted.
TUESDAY 13 MAY, 1700 Local time (1600 BST)
I've only just arrived in Cannes but I've already seen some wheeling and dealing.
At the departure lounge at Heathrow, one gentleman was loudly talking up his brochure on Jack Black's Kung Fu Panda.
Then beside me on the plane, a bespectacled man in a Betty Ford T-shirt was thumbing through a script called I Love You Philip Morris.
From what I could see while peering nosily over his shoulder, it had nothing to do with the US tobacco giants.
The main character was called Steve whose voiceover contains such expositional gems as "whatever it took, I had to escape" and "that was when I found myself in Texas".
One to watch - or perhaps not.
TUESDAY 13 MAY, 1030 BST
One word summarises the build-up to the Cannes Film Festival this year: pandemonium.
Film companies, press officers and journalists have all been carping that the festival line-up was published too late, with the result that a lot of plans are still up in the air the day before the festival begins.
The Cannes Film Festival is held in the south of France from 14 to 25 May
Nobody quite knows when they'll get to speak to the stars of Indiana Jones or Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, if at all.
But these things always become clearer once you've set foot on the Croisette and shopped yourself around the various PR offices in Cannes' boutique hotels.
So, once my flight lands this afternoon, I'll fill you in...
In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line using the form below.
If there's a film you particularly want to read about, a star you'd like me to hassle, or any duty-free you want picked up at Nice airport, now is the time to get typing.
Here is a selection of the messages which were sent to Mark.
Madonna all the way!!! Steven, Glasgow
Come on, Mark. This is Cannes! You said it yourself: Che "has been called Steven Soderbergh's Godfather." Giving preference to a film about orphans made by a lady in a leotard (seriously, how deep can this be?) would be like opting for Howard the Duck over *Coppola's* Godfather. Patrick Griffiths, London
Are u actually being serious? Go see Che. The buzz around it is worth entry alone. And even if it is a flop at least u can say u were there at ground zero. Madonna on the other hand has only given us Swept Away and her dreadful cameo in Die Another Day. Russ, Leamington, Warwick
Just read the article from Spike Lee. I was always of the impression that american films of the WW2 era were acurate if they didn't contain black frontline soldiers. I read in a BBC book about D-day that black american soldiers were usually in non fighting units. In fact the book went as far to suggest that black soldiers from the states were not used to coming into non segregated bars etc when stationed in the UK and began asking questions about such treatment when they returned to the US. Fraser, Glasgow
Loved the Dustin Hoffman interview, no sign of the georgeous George Clooney then? Re Spike Lee, cant help but think you were doing your job asking about his comments. You cant make those sort of remarks and not expect a reaction Anne, belfast
Mark, In your review of the new Indiana Jones movie you mention the term "MacGuffin", and suggest that it's a term invented by George Lucas. I think it was actually popularised by Hitchcock. Not really important but after seeing Lucas milk his various franchises of late I'd hate him to get the credit.
Surely Cannes is not all about Indiana Jones! I'm surprised and sad that its seems all you talk about, whilst there are plenty of other (better?) films being presented... Akbal, Italy
Reading your very enjoyable log I have just realised I may have missed the chance to get you to ask Angelina Jolie if its true what was reported in the London Times yesterday. Apparently Brad Pitt claims she "has been eating onion rings with mustard and a box of chocolates at the same time" If you see her again and she isn't throwing up you could check it out. Do you get a chance to eat? Mariba, Belfast N.Ireland
I enjoy a lot your stuff, regards!, and please bring me some souvenirs, lol!
Heading out to Nice and Cannes this weekend. Any chance of a ticket for me and my five family members. If not, just a private interview and photoshoot with a few stars will suffice.....lol
I guess us members of the public don't get to see much at Cannes as it's still very industry closed shop. We are just the people who actually pay to see their movies..... David Williams, Northampton, UK
Hi, if you get the chance, go and see Stag Night of the Dead! It's an independent RomZomCom that I was lucky enough to play one of the featured undead in. It's the director's 1st feature-length movie and should be really quite funny. Go see it, and if u like it help spread the word! Thank you. Kevin, Ipswich, UK
Mark Kermode was so upset that James King was staying in a nicer apartment than him at last years Cannes. Are you able to better either of them this year? James, Vancouver
I'd love to hear about Wong Kar-Wai's Redux release of Ashes of Time. It seems Cannes isn't Cannes without a bit of WKW on the side. Richard Hibbert, Cardiff
You do realise that the movie script you saw, I Love You Phillip Morris, is set to be the next film from Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor!? I'm surprised a film journalist didn't know that! Freddie, London
Good luck with the golden ticket for Indie...can't wait to hear your next update. Keep up the great work!
...And we thought you should know that the correct term for a group of pandas is a 'frolic'. Jt and Emso, Brisbane, Australia
I heard a British film called Burlesque Fairytales was meant to be on at Cannes, but I have yet to find any mention of it. Heard anything? I wish I had your job... Hannah, London
Mark, I just arrived in Cannes to meet up with some friends but I don't have a pass. I was wondering what sort of screenings, if any, I can see without a pass? If there are any, what sort of hoops do I need to jump through to get in? Thanks. Michael, Lodz, Poland
Are you updating on Twitter?
Heading down to Cannes tomorrow morning and would be great to follow you whilst down there. Cheers, Paul hartleyhair
Un Conte De Noel seems to be getting a great write-up, Glenn Kenny loved it too. Will have to keep my eyes peeled for a UK release date. Mark, Edinburgh
Could you take a look at in detail "3 Monkeys" by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a Turkish film that I am very interested in, I think it may be a strong candidate this year. Berrak, London
Hi Mark, I was at the festival last year as a runner. Unfortunately am not there this year but is the truck with the booming music, sponsored by some sort of energy drink still driving round at the end of the day? If so, what's the name of the drink?! It's been driving me insane!! Josh, London
Hey Mark, looking forward to your blogging. Hopefully you'll get a chance to catch Spielberg and Lucas and have a word about Indiana Jones, or Steven Soderbergh about his four-hour epic Che. Have fun! Mark, Edinburgh, UK
I would like to hear more about this masterclass that Quentin Tarantino is doing in Cannes. Christine, London, UK
My mum and dad are on holiday in Cannes at the moment, probably the worst time to go! If you see a slightly bewildered looking couple in their late 50s, say hi from me!!! Simon, Colchester, UK
Heading out to Nice and Cannes this weekend. Any chance of a ticket for me and my five family members. If not, just a private interview and photoshoot with a few stars will suffice...! I guess us members of the public don't get to see much at Cannes as it's still very industry closed-shop. We are just the people who actually pay to see their movies... David Williams, Northampton, UK
If you find a break in the hooplah may I suggest seeking out a young French actress called Dany Verissimo Petit. Luc Besson specifically wrote the part in District 13 for her. She is down in Cannes with a short film called Finding. I have seen the rushes on it and it is ripe for making into a very good feature film. Give it a go if you fancy. Martin Smith, Hong Kong
I would be very much interested in hearing about two Italian films: Il Divo by Paolo Sorrentino and Gomorra by Matteo Garrone. I consider Sorrentino and Garrone the best Italian directors of the moment and the topics are very "hot". Giacinto Palmieri, London, UK
I'm on holiday at the moment and I will be arriving in Cannes tomorrow for a couple of days. Is it likely that I will get to spot some celebs? If so, any tips where I might need to be to catch a glimpse? Shilo Poynting, Canberra, Australia
Please can we see something about Entre Les Murs by Laurent Cantet? I understand he is taking 25 children from the Banlieue (who starred in the film) to Cannes to experience the festival and that it's the first time many of them will have been on a train and worn formal clothes! BB, London, UK
It's got to be worth seeking out Kiyoshi Kurosawa and his film Tokyo Sonata. One of the finest, most confident, original and distinct talents in Japan surely has a good shot at some major attention this year as he shifts his ouput style around once more, after some years of varying success. And since you mention it - one large bottle of single malt please; I have PayPal. Logboy, England
Hello Mark, I am a Cannes virgin, heading there on the 19th as a friend is in competition. I am also attempting to shop around an animation project, which I made in my kitchen. Just wondered what your tips are. I already have a few meetings set up but I don't know how blagging one's way into parties/screenings works. Maybe I'll see you out and about on the Croisette. Phil Stark, London, UK
I'm bringing my 12-year-old daughter along on Saturday. Are there any particular highlights we lay-people should expect or hope to see? Any itinerary would be much appreciated. I worked as an art director for Screen International at the Cannes festival several years ago but was so busy producing the daily edition that I never got an idea of what actually happens... Jean-Luke Epstein, Nice, France
Hello Mark, I'm heading to Cannes on Friday until Monday and am quite apprehensive as it'll be my first time there. Especially as I've hired a car and from a vacation in Paris I know that "the little green man" does not mean 'safe to cross'. It means 'if you cross the road now, there is a chance you may live'. Assuming I get there in one piece I'll be looking to spot anyone from the Indiana Jones camp; Lucas, Spielberg or Ford. So if you get a chance to hassle them, please do. Oh and if you do happen to see a "little green man", remember your Green Cross Code: stop, look, listen... and then run and hope you don't get hit! Neill Virtue, Northern Ireland
Any duty-free you want picked up at Nice airport: yep a nice bottle of pastis... JCP, Guildford
I'd like you to see if a film called The 13th Day made it there this year and if so, what you think about it. K A Costigan, Stratford upon Avon, UK
I'd be really interested in hearing your thoughts on Soderbergh's film 'Che' and how it sits with the audience. Matteo Garrone's film another one I'd love to hear about if you get to see it. Adrienne, London, UK
I'm quite interested in Atom Egoyans film, Adoration, which is in the official selection this year. If you could interview him, the actors of the film or review the film itself that would be great. I'm curious so see how this film goes this year as Egoyan, with his previous films, has racked up many of Cannes other prizes, just not the Palme D'or. Thanks and i look forward to reading your blog. Peter K, Melbourne, Australia
Of the selection, I'm most excited about Synecdoche, New York. Eternal Sunshine cohort Michel Gondry has failed miserably in attempting to write *and* direct. Can Kaufman direct as well as he writes? More details about this intriguing project, please! Patrick Griffiths, London
Fancy a challange? See if you can find a man called Duncan, he'll be pushing a script called Wild Horses or The Happy Bus. Ben Lacey, Brighton
I would like to hear more about the Short Film Corner and the films being screened there. There is particular interest in 2 films being screened by Director James Cooper and Producer Yaw Attuah from Canada that I would love to hear more about. Lisa Haas, Ontario, Canada
The collective noun is A pandemonium of pandas Feefers Lovecraft, Aberdeen, Scotland
Any chance of a promotional panda?? Julie Foster, Cardiff, Wales
A Rarity of Pandas? Very rare to see a group of Pandas, solitary animals. May see a pair, with a cub. (Perhaps) Colin Bartlett, Oxford
Apparently a group of pandas is a pandemonium... Becka W, Bristol
Just wondering how long the festival goes for? We are heading over for the Monaco Grand Prix so wanted to know if we'll still have a chance to catch any of it? Sue, Oxford, UK
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