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November 20, 2014

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Cannes Watch: Hilary brilliant, Girls get traction

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Alastair Grant / AP

From second right, actress Hilary Swank; director Tommy Lee Jones; Cannes film festival President Gilles Jacob; the wife of Tommy Lee Jones, Dawn Laurel-Jones; actress Sonja Richter; and actress Miranda Otto stand at the top of the red carpet as they arrive for the screening of “The Homesman” at the 67th international film festival in Cannes, southern France, on Sunday, May 18, 2014.

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 reporters have seen and heard:

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LOOK OF THE DAY: HILARY SWANK

It was a coup for Donatella Versace: Hilary Swank was brilliant in white on the Cannes red carpet Sunday for the premiere of "The Homesman," with a silk one-shoulder gown from Atelier Versace, twinned with a 1000-watt smile.

The killer dress came from the Italian house's couture line and was gathered at the waist and draped at the back.

Setting the look off, she wore Chopard earrings in white gold set with oval-shaped tanzanites, opals and triangle-cut 2-carat diamonds. It was one of the most beautiful styles seen all festival.

"The Homesman" was directed by Tommy Lee Jones, who also stars in it.

— Thomas Adamson, http://twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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'EXPENDABLES' BOOST NIGERIAN GIRLS

The "Bring Back Our Girls" message has made its way to the Cannes red carpet for the second night in a row.

This time, it was the cast of "The Expendables 3" — which includes Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Jason Statham, and Wesley Snipes — who each held up signs bearing the message. The phrase refers to the worldwide effort to bring home more than 250 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the extremist Islamic group Boko Haram a month ago. Despite a multinational effort, they have yet to be recovered.

Salma Hayek brought the message to the red carpet on Saturday night, holding up the sign as she arrived to preview her film "The Prophet."

"The Expendables 3" is not an official selection at Cannes, but its stars have made the most of their Cannes visit — arriving on the Riviera Saturday morning in tanks.

— Nekesa Mumbi Moody, http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi

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JONES PREMIERES 'THE HOMESMAN'

In Westerns, women are usually bit players, relegated to fleeting domestic scenes before the men set out on adventure.

On Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival, Tommy Lee Jones premiered a Western from a more female perspective. His "The Homesman" is about a single woman farmer (Hilary Swank) on the Nebraska plains during Westward expansion.

Called "bossy" by suitors, the strong-willed Mary Bee Cuddy volunteers to take three women who have grown crazy on the desolate landscape to Iowa. She enlists an outlaw, played by Jones, to help on the weekslong journey. Cuddy and the women are generally treated as mere cargo in the race West — which Jones said he considers historical roots to sexism today.

"I don't think there's a woman in this room who has never felt objectified or trivialized because of her gender," Jones said to festival reporters. "There's a reason for that and a history of that, and I think that's an interesting thing."

It's the second time directing a feature for the 67-year-old Jones, whose 2005 "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" was warmly received by critics. "The Homesman," which co-stars Meryl Streep, John Lithgow and Hailee Steinfeld, had a more mixed reaction in Cannes.

Jones declined to see his film as a Western.

"I don't understand that word," he said of "genre." ''It's a consideration of the history of Westward expansion, a way of looking at what the school children of America learn on the subject of Manifest Destiny."

— Jake Coyle, http://twitter.com/jake_coyle

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DSK FILM PARTY POKES FUN AT SCANDAL

Abel Ferrara's movie "Welcome to New York," inspired by the sex scandal involving the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been grabbing headlines, and a secretive party to celebrate it here created even more of a buzz.

The theme for Saturday's celebration — hosted at Nikki Beach on the Croisette — mirrored the film's lurid subject matter. Ferrara partied with guests who donned white bath robes, and party bags came with complementary S&M whips, handcuffs, condoms and even tablets labeled "Viagra."

The film, screened before the party started, stars Gerard Depardieu. He bares all to play unrepentant sex-addict Mr. Devereaux, a man who handles billions of dollars a day and commits a sexual assault on a hotel maid following an orgy.

Though the film comes with a legal disclaimer, there are undeniable parallels between Devereaux and Strauss-Kahn, known as DSK.

In May 2011, Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexually assaulting a New York hotel employee. Charges were ultimately dropped against the Frenchman and he reached an out-of-court settlement with the woman. Strauss-Kahn is charged with aggravated pimping in a separate case in France.

In the film, his wife, played stoically by Jacqueline Bisset, sees her dreams of being France's first lady evaporate in scandal and her life torn apart. Strauss-Kahn was seen as a possible candidate for the presidency.

Depardieu was not at Saturday night's party, opting to attend another screening of the film elsewhere in Cannes.

Once seen as a potential contender at the Cannes Film Festival, it has been released in France on video on demand.

— Thomas Adamson

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A PARTY FIT FOR THE CAPITOL

It was like a night in Panem as the already lavish Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc was transformed into an extravagant party that mimicked those thrown in the fictional capitol of the "Hunger Games" series.

Saturday night's event was to promote the future release of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1," the second-to-last installment of the blockbuster apocalyptic series.

Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore and Donald Sutherland were among those who attended the event in d'Antibes, a short distance away from Cannes.

The hotel's courtyard was partly tented and elaborately decorated with chandeliers, satin couches and drapery along with the symbol of a Mockingjay. Guests danced until the early morning hours and were served by wait staff in wild makeup.

— Nekesa Mumbi Moody

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QUICKQUOTE: JOHN WOO

"Other than the love story, this film also displays the power of life. Through their stories, you can see that life is still beautiful. There's still hope to life. If you persevere, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. That's an important theme (of the film). So I was very happy to be back at the set." — John Woo on his new film "The Crossing," which is his return to film after battling cancer.

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