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CANNES WATCH: Blake Lively dazzles on carpet, Kidman talks lows, Campion criticizes industry

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CANNES, France - The Associated Press is all over the Cannes Film Festival — from its glitzy premieres to the celeb parties and quirky moments in between. Here's what they've seen and heard:

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BLAKE LIVELY FOR THE WINNING LOOK

Blake Lively stunned crowds at the Cannes opening of "Grace of Monaco" in Gucci Premiere, wearing a beautifully constructed shoulder-less, two-tone bordeaux silk chiffon bustier dress.

The daring slit down the "Gossip Girl" star's floor-length fluttery pleated skirt exposed a toned left leg and drew attention away from the fact that the gown's colour slightly clashed with the bright red carpet. Lively is at Cannes as a L'Oreal ambassador and as the better half of actor Ryan Reynolds, whose film "Captives" is competing for the Palme d'Or.

— By Thomas Adamson — http://www.twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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KIDMAN'S SUCCESS HAS COME WITH PERSONAL LOWS

Nicole Kidman has never had to make the choice that Grace Kelly did, quitting acting to begin another life as Princess of Monaco. But she's rarely found equilibrium in her career and personal life.

"When I won the Oscar, I went home and I didn't have (love) in my life," said Kidman, who won best actress for "The Hours" in 2003, two years after she and Tom Cruise were divorced. "That was the most intensely lonely experience in my life."

Kidman stars as Kelly in "Grace of Monaco," which premiered Wednesday as the opener of the Cannes Film Festival. In it, she plays Kelly following her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco (Tim Roth) as she adjusts to royal life and severs ties with Hollywood.

"Strangely for me, the greatest highs have coincided with the greatest lows," Kidman said. "So (during) my professional highs a lot of times I've had personal lows and they've collided. That's always aggravated me that it's gone that way. I'm hoping one day I can have a professional high and a personal high."

Kidman said she drew from her own life to empathize with Kelly, although their husbands are very different.

"I am married to a prince," said Kidman, who wed Keith Urban in 2006. "A country prince."

— By AP Film Writer Jake Coyle — http://twitter.com/jake_coyle ___

AWARD-WINNING DIRECTOR LAMBASTS SEXISM IN CINEMA

Jane Campion, the only female director in Cannes Film Festival history to win the Palme d'Or, threw a punch at the male-dominated film industry during Cannes' inaugural jury press conference.

"There is inherent sexism in the industry. ... It does feel very undemocratic," said Campion, this year's jury president, sitting alongside jury members Wednesday including director Sofia Coppola and actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Willem Dafoe.

"Excuse me, gentlemen. It's not that I resent the male filmmakers ... but there are some things that women are doing that we don't get to know about ... a more feminine vision," she said, adding that only 7 per cent of 1,800 entries submitted to the Cannes Film Festival were directed by women.

But the "Piano" director from New Zealand, who's known for her good humour, dispelled the tensions at one point.

"My big problem is: What to wear? That's everyone's problem at the Cannes Film Festival. There's a very high bar."

Campion won the Palme d'Or, the festival's top honour, in 1993 for "The Piano."

— By Thomas Adamson — http://www.twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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REACTION TO 'SUGARMAN' DIRECTOR DEATH:

"I briefly met him last year at the Oscars and it is very shocking. And I am very sad that it just happens like that." — Gael Garcia Bernal, filmmaker and actor, on the apparent suicide of "Searching for Sugarman" director Malik Bendjelloul.

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'GRACE' MOVIE RENEWS INTEREST IN KELLY AS FASHION ICON:

Grace Kelly can bring to mind several things: an Oscar-winning Hollywood actress, a mother, a princess and a Nicole Kidman movie premiering at the Cannes Film Festival.

But to many, she will always be one of the world's greatest fashion icons.

Kidman's "Grace of Monaco" is renewing focus on Kelly's stylish impact. The day the Hitchcock blonde married Monegasque Prince Rainier in April 1956, it forever sealed the links between Monaco, the French Riviera and glamour.

In the wedding ceremony, attended by Ava Gardner, Cary Grant and David Niven, Kelly walked the aisle in a hand-sewn ivory dress, made of 300 yards of antique Brussels rose-point lace sent by MGM Studios — shaking up the staid royal family.

The Hermes saddlebag she carried to hide her royal pregnancy bump was named after her. In 1960, Princess Grace became one of the only royals to enter the "International Best Dressed List." Today, the "Kelly bag" still has one of the longest waiting lists in the world.

The fresh, natural glamour of the "Grace Kelly Look" — as Women's Wear Daily branded it in the 1950s — has lived on. And the power her legacy still wields to bring glamour to the French Riviera region was revisited Wednesday as celebrities flocked to the film's world premiere.

— By Thomas Adamson— http://www.twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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MONACO ROYALS LEAVE RIVIERA AS 'GRACE' ARRIVES:

After lambasting "Grace of Monaco" for inaccurately portraying his late mother Princess Grace, Prince Albert is putting distance between himself and the red carpet premiere of the movie at the Cannes Film Festival.

Albert and Princess Charlene are dodging the storm by leaving Monaco, just a stone's throw from Cannes, and going on an official visit to the French Auvergne region town of Carlades, about 560 kilometres (nearly 350 miles) away. It's an old fiefdom of the Monegasque royal family.

Earlier this month, the Prince's Palace issued yet another communique opposing the Nicole Kidman film — saying that it "cannot under any circumstances be classified as a biopic."

"The trailer appears to be a farce and confirms the totally fictional nature of this film," Palace officials said.

Perhaps the royal couple will lose no sleep over skipping the opening. "Grace of Monaco" was met with some of the worst reviews for a Cannes opener after screening for the press early Wednesday.

— By Thomas Adamson — http://www.twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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RAZING THE CANNES FESTIVAL "BUNKER"?

The eyes of Italian film icon Marcello Mastroianni stare out cooly behind sunglasses on the huge poster across the Cannes Film Festival's sprawling 1970s-style building. But if the event's outgoing president had his wish, it would be plastered on a different structure.

Gilles Jacob has stirred controversy by calling the red-carpeted, white retro complex — which has been hosting the festival for four dazzling decades — anything but "cool."

Speaking to local media this week, Jacob called the 1979 behemoth "ill-adapted" and too dated for the needs of the world's most glamorous film festival, and suggested that the "bunker" be razed.

He proposed a more modern building to secure the prestige of the festival, which has hosted more than 67 years of cinema's most famous stars.

"We're therefore asking for a Grand Palace to be built ... that's befitting of the world's No. 1 cultural event," Jacob said.

Not everyone agrees with his assessment. Cannes' mayor, David Lisnard, has defended the festival hall, saying it's fit for its purpose and will stay put. The city has the final say on its fate.

— By Thomas Adamson — http://www.twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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TARANTINO WILL BID CANNES ADIEU

Quentin Tarantino will close out the Cannes Film Festival with a tribute to Sergio Leone.

Tarantino will present a restored version of Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964) at the May 24 closing ceremony. It will screen as part of a 50th anniversary celebration of the Spaghetti Western, a favourite genre of Tarantino's.

Usually, the Palme d'Or winner is screened at the Cannes closing ceremony, but this year's schedule has been tweaked because of European elections. The Palme d'Or winner will be shown May 25 instead.

Tarantino won the Palme d'Or for "Pulp Fiction" in 1994.

— By AP Film Writer Jake Coyle — http://twitter.com/jake_coyle

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EDITOR'S NOTE — "Cannes Watch" shows you the Cannes Film Festival and the events surrounding it through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across Cannes and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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