CANNES WATCH: Hayek's nod, Baruchel's 'Star Wars'

Associated Press
Actress Salma Hayek holds up a sign reading "bring back our girls", part of a campaign calling for the release of nearly 300 abducted Nigerian schoolgirls being held by Nigerian Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, as she arrives for the screening of Saint-Laurent at the 67th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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CANNES, France (AP) — 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: SALMA HAYEK

With a fuchsia strapless dress that accentuated her voluptuous figure, Salma Hayek was already guaranteed to turn heads on the Cannes red carpet.

So she used the opportunity to draw attention to a crisis — the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls. The Oscar-nominated actress carried a sign with the hashtag "Bring Back Our Girls" as she walked in front of a throng of cameras to a preview of her animated film "The Prophet" on Saturday.

The "Bring Back Our Girls" slogan has been used across social networks. Notable figures including U.S. first lady Michelle Obama have posed with the message to urge the return of the girls, taken hostage by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram a month ago.

Hayek is not the only Cannes participant to use the media coverage to draw attention to a topical event. On Friday, the cast of the Turkish film "Winter's Sleep" held up signs with the hashtag Soma. Soma is the Turkish city where 301 people were killed in an explosion and fire in a coal mine, the country's worst mining accident.

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SPANDAU BALLET DRAWS CROWD

We know this much is true: People still love Spandau Ballet.

The British pop group had an eager crowd singing along as they performed a brief acoustic set in a setting that overlooked the beach.

"We're in bloody Cannes! We have a film!" shouted Tony Hadley as he sang the band's hits with guitarist Steve Norman, including its most famous song, the 1980s smash "True."

The Friday night performance was to promote their new documentary, "Soul Boys of the Western World." This is not the first time it's been at a festival: In March, the film showed at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.

"Even if you didn't relate to the band or the band's story, because the band's story is quite exceptional in a way that we grew up out of nothing, we rose to the heights," said Martin Kemp, one of the band's main songwriters, in an earlier interview.

"But I think people relate to it because basically it's a story about friendship. How our friendship starts, how it falls apart sometimes, and if you're lucky enough, you can bring it back together."

The film not only profiles the British band's rise, but the music of the 1980s.

Hadley said the quintet didn't try to interfere with the filmmakers' vision.

"If we'd started to get involved and we said, 'Oh can you take that shot out of me because I don't look too good' or 'I don't like what I said on camera,' then it's not going to be a true representation," he said. "At the same time it was very emotional, I mean we all had a tear in our eye when we first saw it."

The film, which has not yet been released to the public, is being shown to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival.

— By Louise Dixon

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DEPARDIEU READS 'PROPHET' POETRY

Gerard Depardieu is in Cannes for a screening of his hotly anticipated film "Welcome To New York," about disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Khan, but also was on hand to support Hayek for her film "The Prophet."

The actor read a poem from the classic book by Khalil Gibran, on which Hayek's animated film is based.

Depardieu read the selection at a preview of the film, which is not in competition at the festival. The preview included several clips and Hayek, the film's producer, introduced each of the film's segment directors.

Depardieu's film — also not in competition — is among the more anticipated of the festival. It tells the story of Strauss-Kahn, accused of raping a hotel worker during a stay in New York. He was never charged but scandal engulfed him as other accusations were made.

It was released on video on demand in France, where Depardieu is from. It was screened in Cannes on Saturday.

— By Cristina Jaleru — http://www.twitter.com/cristinelle7

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UNAUTHORIZED "SAINT LAURENT" SCREENS

Yves Saint Laurent's surviving lover Pierre Berge didn't want director Bertrand Bonello's unauthorized biopic of the fashion icon to see the light of day.

But the AP's Thomas Adamson reports that "Saint Laurent," a controversial, no-holds-barred story of one of the 20th century's greatest designers, screened in competition at Cannes on Saturday (read Adamson's full story here: http://bit.ly/1gBqkfy ).

The two-and-a-half hour feature examines how the late, great couturier's life was torn apart by casual sex and drugs and depicts his charged erotic relationship with a third man, Jacques de Bascher, who died of AIDS in 1983.

Bonello's "Saint Laurent" is dark and sexually explicit, featuring Gaspard Ulliel, who lost weight and bared all to play the title role, and Louis Garrel in the role of Jacques.

It's the second feature film on the legendary designer with the dark rimmed spectacles in less than six months. Unlike the first authorized film by Jalil Lespert, the Bonello project was publicly opposed Saint Laurent's surviving life and business partner, Berge.

Scenes of full nudity, drug taking and references to hard gay sexual practices litter the film, spliced with contrasting scenes of the precision of the fashion atelier.

The producer says the film was made not to attack Berge but to represent the truth behind the softly-spoken creator of the "Le Smoking," who remains one of fashion world's most enigmatic figures.

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

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QUICKQUOTE: BARUCHEL'S 'STAR WARS'

"You can spend your entire career and never be part of something that's half as an important as 'How to Train Your Dragon.' We all knew it was a good movie, but I don't know if any of us expected to it be a global phenomenon. There're people that adore this movie in the four corners of the worlds. That's insane. I feel like I lucked out. This is my 'Star Wars.'" — Actor Jay Baruchel, who broke out on Judd Apatow's television series "Undeclared" and is known for comedy hits like "Knocked Up" and "This is the End," on spending about seven years in the "Dragon" franchise.

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'WILD TALES' A HIT

The six darkly satirical stories that compose the Argentine romp "Wild Tales" added up to a breakout hit at the Cannes Film Festival.

With the film's producer, Pedro Almodovar, looking on, Argentine director Damian Szifron emphatically arrived in Cannes on Saturday as a new comic voice with his "Wild Tales," a romp of blown tempers and extreme revenge.

Each tale spirals explosively from an initially slight encounter: A demolition engineer's car is unjustly towed; a driver flips off another on a desolate road; a bride sees her groom flirt with a wedding guest. All gradually descend into mayhem.

"I think that people lead very stressful lives," Szifron said. "You can't repress your feelings all the time. That takes too much effort."

"Sometimes," he added, "people just explode."

At the Cannes Film Festival, where most films in competition for the Palme d'Or are heavier dramas, "Wild Tales" was the comic exception — a festival wildcard that regaled audiences with its violent wit.

"When something is too solemn, something fishy is happening," said Szifron, who had festivalgoers laughing at a press conference, where Almodovar sat in the front row. "Why can't comedy be quite a serious matter at the same time?"

Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film for a North American release ahead of its premiere Saturday.

Szifron said he identified strongly with his famous producer's exaggerated sense of humor.

"This film could have been called 'People on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,' he said, alluding to Almodovar's beloved farce "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown."

— By AP Film Writer Jake Coyle — http://twitter.com/jake_coyle

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ORA SOAKS IT IN

Rita Ora has been to Cannes before, but she can't tell you much about it because it felt like a blur.

"I've never been to Cannes properly. I've been one time to perform, and then I left, so I never really experienced it," she said.

The 23-year-old British singer was back to perform Friday night for an intimate party thrown by Belvedere Vodka. But this time around she was hoping to get a chance to enjoy more of the Riviera.

"I want to enjoy myself. We're going to kind of get down, because we're in Cannes," she said before performing a selection of her hits including "Hot Right Now."

The British singer has branched out into acting: She has a role is the movie "Fifty Shades of Grey" due out next year.

"I'll definitely be here next year. I think Cannes is a door that I think some people should always open. I think it's full of opportunities and you meet so many different people and you kind of get to get the vibe of it," she said. "I'm so grateful for everything. ... I'm honestly here to just learn."

— By AP Entertainment Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody — http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi

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EDITOR'S NOTE — "Cannes Watch" shows you the Cannes Film Festival and the events surrounding it through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across Cannes and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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