Cannes - The Cannes Film Festival opened on Wednesday with a sweet-natured family romp by Wes Anderson, as women jurors spoke up to quash a row over the all-male line-up for the competition.
The red-carpet premiere of Anderson's bittersweet teen elopement fantasy Moonrise Kingdom kicked off 12 days of screenings, deal-making and champagne-fuelled parties on the French Riviera.
The film is the first of 22 vying for the Palme d'Or top prize
The Artist actress Berenice Bejo officially cut the ribbon on the world cinema showcase together with Moonrise Kingdom director Anderson, his teen actors and grown-up stars Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray.
Earlier Jessica Chastain and Eva Longoria shimmied up the steps of the seafront festival palace, first of a glamorous roll-call of stars expected in town including Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard and Kylie Minogue.
'Women are welcome here'
But the jury led by Italian film-maker Nanni Moretti came in for a grilling over the lack of women behind the camera this year, with none in the main competition and just two in Cannes' new talent section Un Certain Regard.
British director and juror Andrea Arnold told a news conference it was "a pity and a great disappointment" that so few women went into film-making, but argued that Cannes simply "represents how it really is out there in the world".
She said she herself would "hate" to be invited on grounds of gender.
"I would only want my film to be selected for the right reasons - not out of charity because I'm female or anything," said Arnold, whose first two feature films - Red Road and Fish Tank - both won the Cannes jury prize.
Arnold's fellow juror Diane Kruger also denied any sexism at Cannes: "On the contrary, my impression is that women are welcome here. It just so happens that there aren't any this year."
New Zealand's Jane Campion is the only woman to have won the Palme d'Or, for The Piano in 1993, but last year's festival raised hopes of a breakthrough, with an unprecedented four women in competition.
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