The competition portion of the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival began in earnest tonight as the fest opened with the World Premiere of Wes Anderson’s new comedy, Moonrise Kingdom. And the results certainly pleased Focus Features chief James Shamus, who assessed the evening for me at the film’s swinging late night afterparty at Carlton Beach (which started after the usual opening night formal dinner). The movie received a 5-minute standing ovation that in fact brought co-star Bill Murray to visible tears in the audience. Of course every film gets some kind of ovation from these twice-a-night opening crowds. But there seemed to be genuine enthusiasm for Anderson who has never brought a film to Cannes. “I contacted [Fest director] Thierry Fremaux and really fought hard for the opening night slot because I believed in this film,” Schamus told me. It is somewhat unusual for the opening nighter to be in competition also. (Schamus said he thought it was maybe only the second or third time in the last couple of decades.) “Wes is also an auteur so I thought it would be only natural that his film would compete,” Schamus told me. Many of the opening nighters I spoke to felt it was worthy of a prize.
Anderson’s film is the first of 22 which the Cannes jury (headed by Italian director Nanni Moretti) will see over the next 12 days. Today, virtually the entire Moonrise Kingdom cast (Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, and tweens Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) met the press. “These were so many people I wanted to work with for so long. I like to think of movies I do as a bit like a theatre company,” Anderson said. Typical of the camraderie felt by Anderson casts, “It’s clearly a family,” said Swinton. “Wes has made it feel as if we were all invited to a wedding. It was quite an adventure.” (more…)