CANNES WATCH: Aishwarya Rai stuns, DiCaprio spends big

CANNES WATCH: Aishwarya Rai stuns, DiCaprio spends big

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CANNES, France (AP) — The wait was worth it: Aishwarya Rai's return to Cannes with her first film in five years got a boost when the beauty made a splashy appearance in a ruby red number and smoky eyes.

It was one of the highlights of Day Seven at the Cannes Film Festival, in which Leonardo DiCaprio spent as much as a car on a bag; Isabella Rossellini talked about the legacy of her mother, Ingrid Bergman; Denis Villeneuve unveiled his new movie about drugs ... and a weird moment when Michael Jackson's father showed up:


Bollywood star and l'Oreal ambassador Aishwarya Rai may well have caused boats to crash as she posed for cameras on the Cannes dock at the photo call for her film "Jazbaa" on Tuesday.

The 41-year old beauty wore a bordeaux-colored Oscar de la Renta organza and silk taffeta gown with layered lattices that gave a classic gown a fashion-forward twist.

The dropped waist and long torso ensured that everyone got a sense of her enviable figure and her deep red lips purred sexy.

— By Thomas Adamson,


Denis Villeneuve unveiled his drug war thriller "Sicario" at the Cannes Film Festival, premiering a muscular saga that plunges deep into Mexico only to reveal more about the other side of the border.

"For me, the movie's not about Mexico," Villeneuve told reporters Tuesday. "The movie's about America."

Emily Blunt stars as an FBI agent enlisted to a task force led by a cocky CIA operative (Josh Brolin). They're joined by a mysterious Columbian played by Benicio del Toro. In clandestine raids into Mexico and other illicit activities, they attempt to bring down a cartel boss.

A bleakly violent thriller, "Sicario" is the Quebecois director's second collaboration with the revered cinematographer Roger Deakins. Like their 2013 kidnapping drama "Prisoners," it's heavy with allusion to the morality of employing violent military tactics for the sake of American safety.

"We are living in a time where gray zones are more blurred than ever," said Villeneuve.

The director acknowledged that there was initially pressure for Blunt's protagonist to be rewritten for a male actor.

Del Toro, though, said the drug trafficking drama of "Sicario," which Lionsgate will release in the U.S. on Sept. 18, is familiar territory for him.

"I'm an old horse when it comes to that problem," the Puerto Rican actor said.

— By AP Film Writer Jake Coyle,


There's no getting away from Ingrid Bergman at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

The actress's youthful eyes stare out from the giant poster billboards speckled about town, special film screenings celebrate her classic movies, and her daughter, actress Isabella Rossellini, is at the festival as jury president of the Un Certain Regard competition.

Tuesday also saw Rossellini, 62, present a documentary, directed by Stig Bjorkman, called "Ingrid Bergman, in her own words."

The 114-minute feature uses never-before-seen documents, diaries, letters and personal images from Bergman to tell the incredible story of how a young Swedish girl went on to win three Oscars and become one of the most respected actresses in world cinema. The film uses artifacts Bergman had handed down to her daughter just before she died of cancer in 1982.

"When my mother died, she was very orderly, Swedish. She left a lot of letters, contracts, all the scripts. She said to me 'I know that this is important, but I don't know what to do with it,'" said Rossellini.

"There is some preciousness," she added, her face lighting up.

— By Thomas Adamson,


Who knew Leonardo DiCaprio had an eye for Chanel bags?

The actor plunked down 10,000 euros ($13,620) for a blue Chanel Neoprene flap bag embroidered with flowers on the Croisette at Cannes on Monday night. But it was all for charity, part of an auction at the Heart Fund Gala, also attended by Paris Hilton, actor Gary Dourdan and featuring a performance by Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def). It was also for his mother; he told auctioneers he was getting it for her, said organizers.

DiCaprio outbid several suitors for the purse, but was himself outbid on two other items, including a vacation at one of the luxury resorts of Nikki Beach Worldwide.

Bey performed a brief set, during which he shouted out to DiCaprio.

The Heart Fund offers cardiovascular care across the globe for impoverished children. Heart surgeons have donated their services to perform costly operations.

Last year, with the support of Nikki Beach owners Jack and Lucia Penrod, the organization purchased a bus to act as a mobile hospital to screen and treat children; it was unveiled at this year's gala.

This year's goal is a plane outfitted with medical equipment to perform surgeries, and it was achieved as one benefactor donated 5 million euros ($6.8 million).

— By Nekesa Mumbi Moody,


Along with film stars and other top actors and directors in the industry, Cannes Film Festival red carpet premieres tend to bring out the random celebrity that makes you wonder why they're there.

On Tuesday, that distinction belonged to Joe Jackson, the patriarch of the Jackson clan.

Michael Jackson's father, wearing a maroon jacket and a fedora, showed up to the premiere of "Sicario" starring Emily Blunt with a large entourage, and may have gotten the biggest response from photographers.

He was swarmed by them and he relished the attention, lingering on the carpet for quite some time as he and his guests posed; at least one took selfies, which has been frowned upon by Cannes organizers. A couple of others briefly danced to the music blaring from the speakers.

On Monday, Paris Hilton also took her time walking down the carpet, so much so it seemed as if ushers were trying to move her along.

— By Nekesa Mumbi Moody,


The celebrity charity car rally "Cash & Rocket" roared into Cannes Tuesday, with its band of stars that this year included actress Michelle Rodriguez, model Jodie Kidd and singer Natalie Imbruglia.

Seventy women are selected each year from the worlds of fashion, film, music and art to travel 1,000 miles across European cities in a glamorous convoy of 35 red cars.

The rally began in Paris, and went on to Lyon and Milan to arrive at the finish line in Cannes — 1,067 miles (1,717 km) and five days later.

This year, it's to raise money for charities Oafrica, Sumbandila and Shine on Sierra Leone — which give aid to poor women and children in the developing world.

— By Thomas Adamson,


A new scholarship program announced at the Cannes Film Festival hopes to help more Arab women break into filmmaking.

The Hani Farsi Graduate Scholarship Fund will pay for three aspiring filmmakers to study directing at the University of California at Los Angeles' School of Theater, Film and Television.

The first recipients are scheduled to begin master's degree studies in September through the program, a partnership between UCLA and the Mohamed S. Farsi Foundation.

Film producer Hani Farsi, who set up the charitable foundation named for his Saudi philanthropist father, said Tuesday that the program was the "first step in a call to action, which we hope will lead to a positive change for women in the film industry and in my part of the world."

The relative lack of female directors in global cinema is a hot topic at Cannes, where just two of the 19 features competing for the Palme d'Or are by women.

— By Jill Lawless,


EDITOR'S NOTE — "Cannes Watch" brings you the excitement of the Cannes Film Festival and related events through the reporting of AP journalists on the ground. Follow them on Twitter with the handles listed after each item. Longer versions of most items have also moved.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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