Cannes braces for stars and protests
Catherine Deneuve Cannes 2023 (AFP)

The Cannes Film Festival was preparing to roll out the red carpet on Monday for a star-packed edition featuring Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman -- but also concerns over protests by French unions.

Some 35,000 people are expected for the festival's 76th edition, which kicks off Tuesday in the French Riviera town and runs to May 27.

Several big-name premieres are showing at the world's biggest cinema industry shindig, including "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny", Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon" starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro and new Pixar film "Elemental".

Meanwhile, 21 films are competing for the top prize Palme d'Or, including a record seven women directors.

Around a thousand police and security guards are in place for the festival, which has been held under a heightened security alert ever since a wave of terror attacks in France in the 2010s.

This year, organizers face additional worries that recent protests over President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms will affect the festival.

All protests are banned around the Croisette during the event, local authorities told AFP, adding that this was the same as previous years.

But the CGT union has vowed to make its presence felt -- threatening last month that it would cut power during the festival and announcing a "fixed" protest in front of the famed Carlton Hotel on Friday.

The famous red carpet, 60 meters (yards) long, will be unrolled on Tuesday. These days, in a nod to environmental concerns, its size has been cut in two to save some 1,400 kilos of carpet.

The jury is led by last year's Palme d'Or winner, Ruben Ostlund, and also includes Hollywood stars Brie Larson and Paul Dano.

Several Palme laureates are back in competition, including Britain's two-time winner Ken Loach, Japan's Hirokazu Kore-eda and Germany's Wim Wenders.

The opening film is bound to make waves: "Jeanne du Barry" is billed as Johnny Depp's comeback film, a period drama in which the controversial star tests out his French skills as King Louis XV.

Its director and lead actress is French star Maiwenn, an outspoken critic of the MeToo movement, who was last month accused of assaulting a journalist in a Paris restaurant.

© 2023 AFP