The 62nd annual Cannes Film Festival gets under way tonight (Wednesday) with a screening of Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles apocalyptic thriller Blindness, about a plague of blindness that sweeps the world. The opening-night film is also competin g for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or. In recent years, the Cannes jury -- this year's is headed by Sean Penn -- has made selections for the prize that have stunned many film journalists and critics in attendance -- but few have complained about the choices. Writing in today's International Herald Tribune, Joan Dupont commented that the festival "has a way of pumping up the action and planting a surprise" during its final days. Nevertheless, the film receiving the most publicity at the fe stival is George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull., which is being screened on May 18, four days before its worldwide theatrical bow. In an interview with the Associated Press, producer Frank Marshall said that Cannes provides "the perfect launching pad, because we can bring the whole world there." Meanwhile, today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times warns that along with the movie world's glitterati the festival sees a swarm of criminals arrive in town each year, although the town actively attempts to play down the annual crime spike. Some victims told the newspaper that they were encouraged by their hotels not to speak publicly about their losses. Emilie George, managing director of France's Memento films, charged that there is an effort afoot "to stifle all sense of any criminal doings during the festival in order to protect its image." But Nikki Parker, who is in the business of protecting images as head of international publicity for PR firm Rogers & Cowan, told the Times that she has been robbed -- twice -- at the festival by cat burglars. Even A.O. Scott, the New York Times film critic, said that he was robbed while he slept in his hotel room by burglars who took his wallet and his principal tool of the trade, his laptop computer.