(Reuters) - The Cannes Film Festival opens on May 15 and films in the main competition include Roman Polanski's French-language adaptation of the play "Venus in Fur".
Steven Soderbergh's HBO movie "Behind the Candelabra," starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, and Joel and Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis," were also given slots in the main competition.
Here is a look at the Cannes film festival:
- Originally conceived in 1939 as an alternative to the Fascist-influenced Venice film festival, Cannes has been held annually since 1946, apart from 1948 and 1950 when lack of funds led to its cancellation.
- In 1949, the stars arrived: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Norma Shearer, Errol Flynn and Edward G. Robinson all appeared that year. Brigitte Bardot made her first appearance in 1953.
- A year later, starlet Simone Silva dropped her bikini top beside Robert Mitchum in front of the photographers, resulting in the kind of racy coverage that secured the festival's reputation.
- In 1968, film director Louis Malle, who was on that year's jury with Polanski among others, was one of a group of film-makers who forced the festival to close in the midst of the student and worker uprisings across France. After an all-night debate marked by raging tempers and occasional fistfights, the organizers called it off.
- Jane Campion became the first female director to win the Palme d'Or in 1993 for her film "The Piano".
- Polanski, best known for the classic "Chinatown", directed his first full-length feature film, "Knife in the Water", in 1962, which was his ticket to Hollywood. Forty years later, Polanski won a best director Oscar for his 2002 Holocaust film "The Pianist", as well as the Cannes film festival's Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) that same year. Polanski lives in Europe, but faces the prospect of arrest if he ever sets foot on U.S. soil over charges he had unlawful sex with a 13 year-old girl in 1977. In 2009 he was arrested on a U.S. warrant in Switzerland upon arrival to receive a lifetime achievement award at a film festival. Switzerland decided in 2010 not to extradite the film director to the United States to face his sentencing and he was freed.
(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)