'World needs a new Chaplin': Cannes Film Festival opens with Zelenskyy appeal to world cinema

'World needs a new Chaplin': Cannes Film Festival opens with Zelenskiy appeal to world cinema
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses guests during the Opening Ceremony of the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 17, 2022. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Cannes: The Cannes Film Festival opened up Tuesday with crowded red carpet arrivals, a star-studded ceremony and a call from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the world of cinema to speak out against the war.

"We need a new (Charlie) Chaplin to prove that today cinema is not silent," said Zelenskyy, referring to Charlie Chaplin's satire of Adolf Hitler at the outset of World War Two in 1939.

"We must be victorious. We need cinema to guarantee this ending, that each time it will be on the side of freedom," said the Ukraine leader through a live video link from Kyiv during the opening ceremony, marking a somber note in the otherwise festive proceedings.

Event organizers had rolled out the red carpet earlier in the day, as cinema stars, festival goers and oglers gathered for the 75th anniversary event, bringing buzz and glamour back to the French Riviera resort, as well as discussions about the role of cinema during times of conflict.

The festival kicked off with the screening of zombie film "Final Cut," by Michel Hazanavicius, who was joined by cast members Berenice Bejo and Romain Duris on the red carpet.

In the opening ceremony, festival president Pierre Lescure handed Forest Whitaker an Honorary Palme d'Or for lifetime achievement, prompting a standing ovation.

Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker poses with his Honorary Palme d’Or Award. Reuters/Sarah Meyssonnier

"An honorary Palme to the artist, the filmmaker, the UNESCO ambassador, simply, a citizen of the world," said Lescure.

The actor's production company is showing "For the Sake of Peace", a documentary on the war in South Sudan.

The world's biggest film festival runs from May 17-28 and will include screenings of Hollywood titles including Tom Cruise's "Top Gun: Maverick" and Baz Luhrmann's musical drama "Elvis."

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