Cannes Film Festival presents surprises, strikes, Trump and MeToo

The Cannes Film Festival kicks off on May 14 with a packed program including the return of Hollywood icons, strike fears, a biopic on Donald Trump and the shadow of the MeToo allegations.

The return of The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola with his decades-in-the-making epic Megalopolis is the most anticipated of this year's Palme d'Or nominees.

It is one of 22 films vying for the love of the jury, led by "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig, which will announce its decision on May 25.

Among those walking the red carpet are actors Richard Gere, Demi Moore and Kevin Costner, who are starring in new films. Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep and Star Wars creator George Lucas will also receive honorary awards.

The latest film in George Miller's "Mad Max" universe, "Furiosa," starring Anya Taylor-Joy, will also have its world premiere, AFP reports.

But the 77th edition of the festival will also feature darker plots.

France's film industry is in the midst of a belated MeToo backlash, with a string of accusations against its biggest star Gerard Depardieu and rumours in the run-up to Cannes of more high-profile allegations.

Actress Judith Godrej, who has accused two filmmakers of assaulting her when she was a teenager, is presenting a short film, Moi Aussi ("Me Too"), which aims to encourage more women to speak out about the violence committed against them.

Meanwhile, one of the filmmakers in the competition, Iran's award-winning Mohammad Rasullof, was jailed in his home country on security breach charges days before presenting 'The Seed of the Sacred Fig'.

A group of festival officials have called for a strike over pay and conditions, which could lead to disruption at the event.

Trump, Coppola, Stone

Among the Palme d'Or contenders is "The Intern," a biopic about Trump's early years from Iranian-born director Ali Abbasi. It stars Sebastian Stan, known for playing the Winter Soldier in Marvel films.

And "Emilia Perez" has a rather interesting synopsis: a musical about a Mexican cartel boss who changes her gender to escape the authorities, directed by French Palme d'Or winner Jacques Audiard. Pop star Selena Gomez appears in a supporting role.

The hottest premiere is undoubtedly Coppola's "Megalopolis." A Roman epic set in modern-day New York, with Adam Driver as a visionary architect trying to rebuild the crumbling city.

Anticipation is growing over whether the 85-year-old director can match his masterpieces from the 1970s, when he twice won the Palme d'Or for Apocalypse Now and The Conversation.

Emma Stone reunites with director Yorgos Lanthimos, fresh off his Oscar triumph for "Creatures of Prey," in "Kinds of Kindness."

In it he partners rising actress Margaret Qualley, daughter of Andy McDowell, who also starred in Demi Moore's unlikely comeback slasher-horror The Substance.

Moviegoers are also excited about new works from body-horror maestro David Cronenberg ("Blind Men"), Italian Paolo Sorrentino ("Partenopeia") and Oliver Stone ("Lula," a documentary about Brazil's president).

Costner returns to his favorite genre, the Western, with the epic "Horizon: An American Saga."

One of the biggest Chinese productions in history, She Has No Name, features megastar Zhang Ziyi tackling the highly sensitive subject of women's rights.

Legendary Japanese animators from Studio Ghibli - creators of "Spirited Away," "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Howl's Moving Castle" - will receive an honorary Palme d'Or, awarded for the first time to a collective. /BGNES