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Festival Frenzy: The Cannes Plan

WWD takes a look at the highlights of the 65th annual film festival, which opens Wednesday night with its usual onslaught of films, parties and fashion.

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From Marilyn Monroe to Nicole Kidman, this year’s Cannes Film Festival promises to be one long celebration of Hollywood’s finest.

The French Riviera event, which runs May 16 to 27, will kick off Wednesday night with a screening of U.S. director Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” starring Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray.

Heavy hitters including Kidman, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart will keep the flashbulbs popping on the red-carpeted steps of the Palais des Festivals over the following fortnight. They will be joined by homegrown stars including Marion Cotillard, Audrey Tautou and Juliette Binoche.

RELATED STORY: Gucci Teams Up With Martin Scorsese at Cannes >>

Monroe, who died a half-century ago, will be present in spirit. The sex symbol features on official posters for the 65th edition of the festival, and Swiss jewelry and watchmaker Chopard will exhibit 25 rarely seen photographs of the star taken by Milton H. Greene.

As usual, the only thing lacking will be some decent shut-eye, with a sleep-depriving roster of after-dark events awaiting festivalgoers.

Among the highlights: Christian Dior will team up with Elle magazine to cohost a party Thursday night celebrating French director Jacques Audiard’s eagerly awaited “De rouille et d’os” (“Rust and Bone”) starring Cotillard, who is the ambassador for the Lady Dior handbag.

Across town, Diane Kruger, Naomi Watts, Jessica Chastain, Ludivine Sagnier and Shailene Woodley will be among the guests at the second annual Women in Film event hosted by the Independent Filmmaker Project, Calvin Klein Collection and Euphoria Calvin Klein.

Watts will be the ambassador of de Grisogono’s gala dinner at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in nearby Cap d’Antibes on May 23, with Taio Cruz and DJ Julio Santo Domingo providing the night’s entertainment.

Chopard, which celebrates its 15th year as the festival’s official sponsor, will host a series of events beginning with the Chopard Trophy on May 17. The patron of the award, handed to two up-and-coming actors, will be Sean Penn, who was president of the jury at Cannes four years ago.

Chopard is also partnering with Penn and festival organizers for “Haiti: Carnival in Cannes,” a charity event on Friday, presented by Giorgio Armani, that will raise funds for the actor’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization, Canadian director Paul Haggis’ Artists for Peace and Justice, and Czech model Petra Nemcova’s Happy Hearts Fund.

The highlight of Chopard’s fortnight will be a “mystery” evening held in partnership with Harvey Weinstein on Monday.

Gucci and Vanity Fair, meanwhile, will host a dinner on Sunday honoring Robert De Niro, who will be in town for the screening of a restored version of “Once Upon a Time in America,” the Sergio Leone classic that has been given a new lease on life by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation.

The Art of Elysium is expected to draw a glittering crowd to its fourth annual Paradis fund-raising event, to be hosted at the Château de la Napoule at Mandelieu-la-Napoule on May 20.

Charles Finch is joining forces with Swiss luxury watch brand IWC for his fourth annual Finch’s Quarterly Review filmmaker’s dinner at the Hôtel du Cap.

The famed hotel will also be the setting for the annual amfAR charity gala on May 24, traditionally the social highlight of the festival. The event chairs this year are Alec Baldwin, Janet Jackson, Milla Jovovich, Kylie Minogue, Karl Lagerfeld, Carine Roitfeld, Michel Hazanavicius and Bérénice Bejo, Ryan Kavanaugh, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Michel Litvak, Aishwarya Rai, Vincent Roberti, Caroline Scheufele, Weinstein and amfAR chairman Kenneth Cole.

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