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Associated Press
Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth walk the red carpet in Cannes.

Embattled ‘Grace of Monaco’ kicks off Cannes

– The Grace Kelly melodrama “Grace of Monaco” kicked off the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday with classic French Riviera glamour, behind-the-scenes controversy and emphatic boos from critics.

The film, starring Nicole Kidman as Kelly during her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco (Tim Roth), gave Cannes some local Cote d’Azur color and star wattage for a flashy opening. But it also started the 11-day festival on an unusually tumultuous note.

“Grace of Monaco” has for months been embroiled in a feud over the final edit with North American distributor the Weinstein Co. It has also been criticized by the Monaco royal family as inaccurate. (The film, which chronicles Kelly’s retirement from Hollywood and adjustment to life as a European princess, is a labeled as a “fictional account inspired by real events.”)

But director Olivier Dahan (“La Vie en Rose”) and Weinstein Co. co-chairman Harvey Weinstein swept their differences under the red carpet Wednesday. After twice postponing its U.S. release, the Weinstein Co. will distribute Dahan’s version, albeit for a lesser fee.

“There is only one version of the film,” Dahan said, adding that any changes would be made mutually. “There is no longer any dispute. We work well together.”

Yet “Grace of Monaco” was met with some of the worst reviews for a Cannes opener. The Hollywood Reporter called the film “a stiff, stagey, thunderingly earnest affair which has generated far more drama off screen than on.”

The festival jury, which decides the prestigious Palme d’Or award, led by Jane Campion, was also introduced Wednesday. As the only female filmmaker to win the Palme (for “The Piano” in 1993), Campion faced questions that have often surrounded Cannes about the inclusion of women directors.

“I think you’d have to say there’s inherent sexism in the industry,” Campion said.

Of the 1,800 films submitted to Festival Director Thierry Fremaux, Campion said only 7 percent were directed by women, though 20 percent are represented in the program.

“But nevertheless, it does feel very undemocratic,” said Campion, who added that movies are losing out on a feminine perspective.

Though “Grace of Monaco” isn’t eligible for the Palme, Kidman (a jury member last year) said she would have picked it.

“What would I give this movie?” said Kidman, smiling. “Come on. The Palme d’Or!”

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