Even under the pouring rain, Cannes is still Cannes, and the excitement is becoming palpable on this side of the pond as well. The festival opened yesterday, and in an article that I translated today for ARTINFO, journalist Damien Leblanc describes how holding umbrellas didn’t keep the crowd from cheering Leonardo DiCaprio and the cast of “The Great Gatsby” on the red carpet.

Critical reception of Baz Luhrmann‘s “Gatsby” (which is not in competition, in keeping with tradition regarding the opening film at the festival) was muted, but expectations are high for the works that are in the running for the Palme d’Or for best picture.

There has been some dismay that only one of the films in competition, “A Castle in Italy,” is directed by a woman, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (who, incidentally, is the sister of former French first lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy). Unfortunately that seems to be par for the course, though the fault doesn’t specifically lie with Cannes — there aren’t very many movies by women made to begin with.

Another rarity is Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam, whose film “Borgman” makes him the first Dutch filmmaker to appear in competition at Cannes in 38 years.

No one expected to see Steven Soderbergh‘s “Behind the Candelabra” — with the enticing casting of Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover Scott Thorson — in competition for the Palme d’Or. Apparently Soderbergh’s announcement that he was retiring from filmmaking inspired the choice, although he has since implied that he is only taking a break. Soderbergh won the Palme d’Or for his first film, “Sex Lies, and Videotape” in 1990. “Candelabra” looks like good fun but I don’t imagine Soderbergh will be walking away with the Palme d’Or this time around.

Image via Wikipedia