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'Godfather' director Coppola set to enthrall Cannes

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CANNES:

The Cannes Film Festival starts Tuesday with an action-packed script including the comeback of Hollywood icons, fears of a strike, a Donald Trump biopic and the shadow of MeToo accusations.

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 entries for the top prize Palme d'Or. It is one of 22 films competing for the affection of a jury led by Barbie director Greta Gerwig, which will announce its verdict on May 25.

Those walking the red carPet include actors Richard Gere, Demi Moore and Kevin Costner, all present in new films. Three-time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep and Star Wars creator George Lucas will also receive honorary awards.

And the latest from George Miller's Mad Max universe, Furiosa, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, will also get its world premiere on Wednesday. But there are darker plotlines at the 77th edition of the festival.

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

Actor Judith Godreche, who has accused two directors of assaulting her when she was a teenager, is presenting a short film, Moi Aussi (Me Too) aimed at encouraging more women to come forward.

Meanwhile, one of the directors in competition, Iran's award-winning Mohammad Rasoulof, has just been jailed in his home country on security charges days before he was due to present The Seed of the Sacred Fig. And a group of festival employees have called for a strike over pay and conditions that could cause disruption at the event.

Trump, Coppola, Stone

Among the entries for the Palme d'Or is The Apprentice, a biopic of Trump's formative years from Iranian-born director Ali Abbasi. It stars Sebastian Stan, known for playing the Winter Soldier in Marvel films.

And Emilia Perez has quite the synopsis: a musical about a Mexican cartel boss undergoing a sex change to escape the authorities, directed by France's own Golden Palm winner Jacques Audiard. Pop superstar Selena Gomez appears in a supporting role.

But the hot ticket is undoubtedly Coppola's Megalopolis on Thursday. A Roman epic set in modern-day New York, it stars Adam Driver as a visionary architect seeking to rebuild the crumbling city.

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

Elsewhere, EMMA Stone reunites with director Yorgos Lanthimos, fresh from their Oscar triumph with Poor Things, for Kinds of Kindness. It co-stars up-and-coming actor Margaret Qualley, daughter of Andie McDowell, who also features in Demi Moore's unlikely comeback, slasher-horror The Substance.

Film fans are also excited about new works from body-horror maestro David Cronenberg (The Shrouds), Italy's Paolo Sorrentino (Parthenope) and Oliver Stone (Lula, a documentary about Brazil's president).

Playing out of competition, Costner returns to his favourite genre, the Western, with the epic Horizon, an American Saga. And one of China's biggest-ever productions, She's Got No Name, features megastar Ziyi Zhang tackling the highly sensitive topic of women's rights.

Legendary Japanese animators Studio Ghibli - makers of Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Howl's Moving Castle - will receive an honorary Palme d'Or, the first offered to a group.

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