Editor’s Note: In a fashion that is very unlike what you’d expect from us, we begin our Cannes Film Festival coverage early this year. In fact, this will mark the first time we’ve ever covered the event — previously, the only thing standing between us and Cannes was our unwillingness to wear ties. And a giant ocean. In order to pull it off this year, we welcome guest blogger Simon Gallagher, best known for his work at ObsessedwithFilm.com, as our special Cannes 2011 correspondent. We look forward to his excellent coverage of all the action taking place along the French Riviera.

So, time is creeping on, and with the May 11th Opening Ceremony to this year’s Cannes Film Festival looming on the not too distant horizon, now is probably a good time to run through what’s going on in the world of Cannes so far. I’m positively bursting with pride to be bringing this news to you, and also to be given the opportunity to cover the festival for Film School Rejects – and to anyone worried I won’t fit in: fear not, for I also have a beard.

Here’s what we know so far:

Robert DeNiro will be President of the Jury

Following on the fancy coat-tails of last year’s supremo Tim Burton, Hollywood icon DeNiro will take the reigns at the head of the table of this year’s judging jury. And all mixed metaphors aside, you’d have to suspect that the great man’s influence will have some positive effect on this year’s line-up. It will at least partly address the Star Vacuum effect that was widely reported as the defining characteristic of last year’s fest.

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris will open the festival

A second successive festival appearance for Mr. Allen, whose extravagantly-titled yet wholly uninspiring You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (insipid story-telling from such a famed filmic raconteur), but an odd choice to open the festival given the past two choices of Pixar’s Up and Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. Perhaps it is more appropriate for the spirit of the festival, but I have to say I would have preferred something grander in its place.

Michel Gondry will head up the Short Film and Cinefondation Jury

And they’re obviously excited by the coup down on the South coast of France, given this hyperbole-heavy gushing that came with the official announcement of his appointment:

“With his seven feature films, several shorts and seventy-odd music videos, Michel Gondry, who is also a musician, has created an incredibly original body of work coloured with dreamscape qualities and Utopian ideals. A master craftsman, a modern day Méliès, he is a cinemagician who constantly reinvents the technical effects and enchantments of the medium of film.”

It’s going to be cosy.

Luckily, as any real estate agent will tell you, location is everything. Stark consolation perhaps for having to share a room the size of a shoe-box with three other British bloggers, but at least I’ll be only a stone’s throw away from the Croisette. And thankfully, what happens in Cannes, stays in Cannes.

As the next few weeks trundle on, expect a lot more news to come in, including the line-ups for the Competition, Un Certain Regard, Out of Competition, in Special Screenings and at the Cinéfondation.

And until then, look out next for my Ideal Cannes 2011 article, which will follow very soon…

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