Cannes film festival Almodovar: From the back row to the top

The Cannes film festival -- the world's greatest movie showcase -- celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

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Spanish director and President of the Feature Film Jury, Pedro Almodovar is Spain's most celebrated living movie director play

Spanish director and President of the Feature Film Jury, Pedro Almodovar is Spain's most celebrated living movie director

(AFP)
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The Cannes film festival -- the world's greatest movie showcase -- celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

AFP asked actors and directors who made their names at the festival to recount their highs and lows at the star-studded event.

Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar, Spain's most celebrated living movie director who is this year heading the festival jury, first attended Cannes in 1983 with his "Labyrinth of Passion".

Pedro Almodovar: Cannes jury president play

Pedro Almodovar: Cannes jury president

(AFP)

"There weren't many people watching it, Madrid and the 'Movida' hadn't yet made an impact abroad," he recalls, referring to the creative movement which emerged following the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

Despite the film's reception, the experience of being at Cannes was "very exciting" with Almodovar watching works by Michelangelo Antonioni and French writer Robert Bresson.

"I sat really far away from the screen in the back rows of the theatre. But I got a great deal out of it. And I was happy.

"I felt like I'd reached the top."

Nabil Ayouch

This French-Moroccan director made his debut at Cannes in 2012 when his film "Les Chevaux de Dieu" ("Horses of God") was shown in the sidebar category "Un Certain Regard".

The best moment for him was the look in the eyes of the main actor when they got there -- a young man who was born in a slum who told him his lifelong dream was to act and go to Cannes with "Horses of God".

"At the time, I told him that he was getting ahead of himself... But he was right."

Three years later, Ayouch was back at the festival with "Much Loved" -- a film about prostitution in Marrakesh which was banned back home on grounds it damaged the country's image.

Such was the backlash the film's lead actress, Loubna Abidar, was attacked in the streets and forced to take refuge in France.

"I've always compared Cannes to a theatre: the play being performed is dangerous because it is closely watched. While 'Much Loved' generated a lot of love in Cannes, another version was playing out in Morocco but the score was one of hatred."

Maria de Medeiros

"Pulp Fiction" was the film which first brought this Portuguese actress to Cannes where it won the Palme d'Or in 1994.

"It was incredible! I felt like I'd been swept up by a tsunami!

"Over time, I learnt to appreciate the festival and enjoy things which had initially scared me: the media whirlwind, the stress, the crazy pace."

Six years later, she returned as a director of "April Captains" which was competing in the sidebar category "Un certain regard".

"One of my best memories is being a member of the jury (in 2007). That's the best way to discover outstanding films."

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