The great and the good of the film industry are congregating on the French Riviera ahead of today's opening of the 61st Cannes Film Festival.

Fifty-seven full-length features will be shown over the next 12 days as Hollywood's major players rub shoulders with the world's most talented directors.

Blockbuster adventure Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull receives its premiere on Sunday ahead of its global release on May 22nd.

Director Steven Spielberg, making his first appearance at Cannes for almost three decades, producer George Lucas and star Harrison Ford will all be in attendance at the Grand Theatre Lumiere.

Other major US films taking their bow at Cannes include Clint Eastwood's prohibition-era mystery Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich, and animated comedy Kung Fu Panda.

The festival will be opened by City of God director Fernando Meirelles's Blindness, which features Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Sandra Oh.

The sci-fi thriller is among a number of films tipped to win the festival's top prize – the Palme d'Or.

Other films expected to challenge for the prestigious prize include Steven Soderbergh's double-feature Che, starring Benicio Del Toro, and Le Silence de Lorna from Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.

14/05/2008 00:01:00