Daring director, #MeToo reckoning at Cannes fest

Hollywood stars jetted into Cannes on Tuesday as the world's most famous film festival gets under way in dramatic circumstances, including a fugitive director's daring escape from Iran, and a looming cloud of fresh #MeToo allegations.

The festival officially kicks off in the evening with an honorary award for Meryl Streep — just one of a host of international A-listers flocking to the sun-drenched Cote d'Azur, where legendary directors George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola top the VIP guest list.

Coppola's decades-in-the-making epic "Megalopolis," an Ancient Rome-inspired saga set in a corrupt modern-day city, is the most anticipated of this year's entries for the top prize Palme d'Or.

"Cannes is important to him and he is important to Cannes. He comes as an artist," said festival head Thierry Fremaux, praising the 85-year-old director of "The Godfather".

"Megalopolis" is one of 22 films competing for the affections of a jury led by "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig.

Richard Gere will star in Paul Schrader's "Oh Canada", recent Oscar winner Emma Stone reunites with Yorgos Lanthimos in "Kinds of Kindness", and Demi Moore tries her hand at horror in "The Substance".

Outside the race for the Palme d'Or, George Miller's latest "Mad Max" instalment, "Furiosa", will get its world premiere on Wednesday, while Kevin Costner returns to the Western genre with "Horizon, an American Saga".

But darker, off-screen plotlines have emerged on the eve of the festival's 77th edition.

In a last-minute twist, director Mohammad Rasoulof — also competing for the Palme d'Or — announced on Monday he had escaped in secret from Iran, just days after being sentenced to eight years in prison on security offences.

Rasoulof had been...

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