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May 13, 2003
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One of Europe's most glamorous events is getting underway as the Cannes Film Festival kicks off in France. This year's celebrations open with Penelope Cruz's new French-language film Fanfan La Tulipe.

The world's media, along with film industry heavyweights and a galaxy of stars, has descended on the town in anticipation of two weeks of premieres, parties and deal-making. Many have been struggling to make their way to the city as French transport workers are embroiled in a nationwide strike.

Penelope arrived on Wednesday - sans her famous boyfriend Tom Cruise - for the screening of her new film, which tells the story of an 18th-century gypsy who falls in love with a soldier. The adventure-comedy is competing with 19 other nominees for the festival's prestigious Palme d'Or award.

Monica Bellucci, Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne are also jetting in for the French premiere of Matrix Reloaded while Nicole Kidman will be on hand to back her latest, Dogville.

And the original Hollywood hardman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is in town to put his not inconsiderable weight behind Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines. Arnie seems to have held true to his promise to "be back", but his movie is not in the running for the main prize. Leading the field is Clint Eastwood's crime drama Mystic River, which stars Sean Penn.

The public will be able to watch the main entries on a giant screen erected on Cannes' beautiful beach, before the prize is awarded on May 25. The winner will be decided by a panel of nine leading movie world players, including actress Meg Ryan, director Steven Soderberg and Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai.

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Photo: ©
Penelope Cruz and co-star Vincent Perez star in the festival's opener, Fanfan La Tulipe Photo: © AFP y
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American sweetheart Meg Ryan greets the press with French actress Karin Viard and jury president Patrice Chereau Photo: © AFP
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Bollywood star and Cannes jury member Aishwarya Rai arrivesPhoto: © AFP

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