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Hollywood lights up Cannes

This year's festival will feature heavyweights such as Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio

CANNES: The Cannes Film Festival will be getting a little help from Hollywood to light up its line-up this year with Quentin Tarantino's return and big-name film stars in tow.

The last-gasp inclusion of the Hollywood director's new film completes an assembly of heavy-hitting Cannes veterans pitted against a clutch of young newcomers.

After a notable scarcity of US movies last year at Cannes, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Tarantino's tribute to the film industry starring Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio, will add a dose of glamour to the red carpet roll-outs on the French Riviera over the next fortnight.

"(Tarantino) is one of the biggest directors of his generation," festival director Thierry Fremaux told a news conference on Monday, before film screenings kicked off yesterday.

"The presence he brings in terms of impact and artistry is a key element of a selection like this year's."

Other highlights include Jim Jarmusch's zombie extravaganza The Dead Don't Die, with an eye-popping cast ranging from Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Adam Driver to singers Iggy Pop, Selena Gomez and Tom Waits.

"This year they have really upped their game," The Hollywood Reporter critic Scott Roxborough said.

The premiere of the Elton John biopic Rocketman, starring Taron Egerton, will also bring pizzazz, Mr Roxborough said.

Other top Cannes returnees include Britain's Ken Loach, US director Terrence Malick and Spaniard Pedro Almodovar.

Netflix movies will once again be notably absent from Cannes, and a row about competition rules is expected to dominate discussions behind the scenes.

Cannes is also adapting to a new era of scrutiny over the lack of women in film.

The festival's jury - besides president Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Mexican film director - is made up of four women and four men for the first time.

Four female directors are competing for the top award, out of 21 films. That was still too small a weighting versus some other festivals, according to Mr Roxborough, though Mr Fremaux said it was a step in the right direction, after Cannes signed a pledge to work towards more equality last year.

The New York Times quoted him as saying: "When we signed this charter, the idea was never that the selection would be based on gender parity."

He added: "No one has asked me to have 50 per cent of films made by women. That would show a lack of respect." - REUTERS

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