Cannes 2018: Scandal, protesting stars and bans, the film festival is marred

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On its official Twitter account, Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Kingdom in Egypt stated that the Saudi Film Council affiliated to the General Authority for Culture will set up pavilion during the festival, displaying 9 of the most important Saudi movie productions, as well as introducing various activities.

One hundred women will grace the Cannes Film Festival red carpet on Saturday as a symbolic show of strength.

Scorsese - whose film Taxi Driver had previously won the festival's top award, the Palme d'Or - was brought out to officially open the festival with Blanchett.

Selfies on the red carpet will also be banned and as a reflection of the current #MeToo Movement in the film industry, a sexual harassment hotline has been set up to help anyone in distress.

The actress and chair of this year's jury said she would "absolutely" like to see more female directors competing for the festival's Palme d'Or award.

South Africa and Kenya both have films in competition for the Uncertain Regard portion of the fest, which is considered a showcase for emerging talent.

Iranian prodigy Samira Makhmalbaf snagged the prestigious Jury Prize twice, first for her 2000 breakthrough feature "Blackboards" and again three years later for "At Five in the Afternoon". "They're there because of the quality of their work".

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"But they're not there due to their gender", Blanchett said. Asked if she was proud to be one of the three women in competition, Labaki replies: "I'm proud but I'm proud to be there, full stop".

"It's very hard to sit in judgement of other artists. that is going to be the most challenging, most painful moment for all of us", said Blanchett.

The two-time Oscar victor also gave short shrift to a journalist who suggested the festival's traditions of glitz and glamour were at odds with the current mood.

As one senior film critic said in an informal chat: "The festival is telling us that it isn't about the media; it is about the filmmakers".

Indeed, in addition to Stewart and Seydoux, the jury this year is rounded out by Ava DuVernay, Taiwanese actor Chang Chen, French director Robert Guédiguian, Burundian singer-songwriter Khadja Nin, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, and _Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev. "It has been irritating to me to think that I'm in Cannes because I'm a woman filmmaker and that now, with everything that's happening, the world has made a decision to put females in the spotlight".

A ban on Netflix films in competition, which came about after the streaming giant refused to show them in French cinemas, has meant the issues of streaming and distribution have also been hot topics. Several Netflix titles, including Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" and the recently completed Orson Welles film "The Other Side of the Wind", had been expected to premiere this year. Two filmmakers in competition - Iran's Jafar Panahi and Russia's Kirill Serebrennikov_ are living under house arrest in their home countries.

But Danish provocateur filmmaker Lars von Trier will return to Cannes seven years after being declared "persona non grata" for joking about being a Nazi and having sympathy for Hitler. Sonam Kapoor-Ahuja will be at the French Riviera as a newlywed and make heads turn on May 14 and 15. The Han Solo spinoff "Solo: A Star Wars Story" is set for an global premiere on May 15.

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