05/22/2014 06:05 EDT | Updated 07/22/2014 05:59 EDT

CANNES WATCH: Minogue's look, ice cream; Wurst on fame; 25-year-old prodigy; Loach not done

CANNES, France - The Associated Press is all over the Cannes Film Festival — from its glitzy premieres to the celeb parties and quirky moments in between. Here's what reporters have seen and heard:



Kylie Minogue ravished the Antibes' amfAR dinner in a revealing champagne satin dress with plunging neckline by up and coming designer Juan Carlos Obando.

"You know me, I always support great designers, up and comers," said Minogue, who appeared in the 2012 film "Holy Motors" that competed at the Cannes Film Festival.

"Deception" star Marion Cotillard, meanwhile, challenged Minogue for the fashion mantle looking ethereal in an embellished off-white sleeveless gown with segmented panels by Alexander McQueen.

— Thomas Adamson —



A 25-year-old Quebecois filmmaker is the toast of the Cannes Film Festival.

Xavier Dolan's "Mommy," a mother-son French-language drama, premiered Thursday in Cannes. While the writer-director is only 25, "Mommy" is his fourth film at the festival, though his first in the prestigious competition for the Palme d'Or.

"There might be a proper age to know how to tell stories, but there is no proper age to start telling them," said Dolan. "I'm not thinking of myself as someone young. I feel neither young nor old, I just feel like I'm trying to do the right thing in order to tell a story that haunts me somehow."

Though Dolan has been a fixture on festivals and won admirers for his previous films, his debut on Cannes' main stage had the feel of an international arrival. Appearing Thursday in a trim green blazer, dark-frame glasses and earrings on both ears, Dolan — often labeled a wunderkind or a prodigy — regaled festival-goers with an intelligence and poise beyond his years.

He spoke passionately about — of all things — James Cameron's "Titanic" and its inspiration to him. He said the 1997 film was the first time it dawned on him that there was "an order to filmmaking."

"It sort of gave me the faith in crazy and ambitious ideas," said Dolan.

"Mommy" was made in an unusual, Instagram-like 1:1 aspect ratio — a square-sized frame that Dolan said gave viewers nowhere to focus but on his characters. It stars Anne Dorval as Diana "Die" Despres, a theatrical, feisty widow as she wrestles with homeschooling her ADHD-afflicted teenage son, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon).

Critical reaction to "Mommy" was mixed, though some predicted it would be in the running for the Palme d'Or. Asked about what such an honour would mean, Dolan said:

"It would just be an extraordinary message to people my age and my generation"

— Jake Coyle —



Conchita Wurst, the Austrian bearded drag queen who won the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month, is enjoying her newfound fame.

"I love this. This is the life I always wanted. So it feels really great," Wurst said, dressed in a sparkling blue evening gown at the amfAR dinner against Aids at Antibes.

Wurst — the alter ego of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth — said she's hoping to go even further in the music business after years of appearing on television in two reality shows and another talent show in 2011.

"I've not been invited to the World Music Awards although I'd love to. Maybe next year," she said.

"I want to record an album and I have to make more music," she said.

— Thomas Adamson —



Ken Loach isn't done yet.

The 77-year-old British director said he has "enough petrol in the tank" to probably make a "little one more." While making his latest film, "Jimmy's Hall," Loach suggested it would be his last fictional feature.

But at the Cannes Film Festival, where "Jimmy's Hall" premiered Thursday, Loach said his retirement announcement was uttered in "a moment of maximum pressure" during production.

"It's a hard job to give up, really," said Loach.

"Jimmy's Hall," which Sony Pictures Classics acquired for distribution ahead of its debut, is a kind of real-life Irish "Footloose" about the Irish 1930s communist leader James Gralton (Barry Ward) and the dance and schooling hall he opens to the anger of local conservatives. It's Loach's record 12th film in competition at Cannes.

Loach said one of the dispiriting trends in movies he's witnessed has been the phasing out of film in favour of digital. Loach not only still shoots on film, but he edits on film, too — which is particularly unusual these days.

"You can check on the cricket score, you can get a cup of coffee," said Loach. "It's a much more human way of working."

But while cutting the film Loach and his editors ran out of an out-of-production edge-numbering tape. They sent out "an SOS to all lovers of film" and were rescued by an unlikely saviour: Pixar. The digital animation company sent the tape, along with a cartoon of Loach and his team.

— Jake Coyle —



At night at the Cannes Film Festival, you normally find the dance parties by listening for booming music coming from beachfront tents.

But on Wednesday night, one of the more unusual events was among the quietest. The audio company Sennheiser held what it called a "silent disco" party at the American Pavilion tent, where party-goers danced along to music that thrummed not from loudspeakers, but from individual wireless headphones.

"Oh my god!" a woman exclaimed as she walked into the party and saw people jumping up and down and grooving to music that she couldn't hear. Headphones were distributed out at the door. There weren't enough for everyone, so some had to wait.

The DJ's eclectic mix of tunes, from Van Halen to Jay Z, was wirelessly transmitted to the headphones. At one point, dancers on the floor stomped their feet as the drumbeat of Queen's "We Will Rock You" started to play.

It might have been the loudest sound of the evening.

—Nekesa Mumbi Moody —



Pop siren Kylie Minogue was in Cannes for a birthday party — not for a person, but a favourite treat.

The Australian singer and sometime actress attended the Cannes Film Festival Wednesday night to give a concert celebrating Magnum ice cream's 25th birthday.

The celebration for the brand included a Minogue concert. She sung hits, including "The Locomotion," after posing for cameras in a rather appropriate shimmering silver sequined cocktail dress — after all, the 25th is the silver anniversary.

Minogue is no stranger to Cannes — two years ago she attended for "Holy Motors," a film in the official selection in which she played a role.

— Thomas Adamson —



Josh Charles and Rosario Dawson were among the luminaries at the annual Heart Fund Charity Ball, but the real VIPs may have been the doctors.

Cardiologists mixed with celebrities at Wednesday's event, designed to raise funds and awareness for Heart Fund, which is dedicated to providing heart care to impoverished children around the world. Heart surgeons donate their services to perform operations for some of the neediest children.

Dr. David Luu, who started the organization, said it comes to the Cannes Film Festival each year to have stars shine a light on the work they do.

"It's not all about the celebrities, it's more than that," he said at the event. "We have surgeon skills in our hand, but we don't have the voices. We need the voice, we need a speaker, and we think cinema is one of the most important media to broadcast messages."

The evening's entertainment included actor Gary Dourdan, who performed songs on acoustic guitar. But the highlight of the evening came when Jack Penrod, the founder of Nikki Beach Worldwide with beach clubs, restaurants and hotels, and his wife Lucia donated 100,000 euros to the organization so it can purchase a "Heart Bus," a mobile hospital to screen and treat needy children.

— Nekesa Mumbi Moody —



Olivier Assayas says moviegoers will see Kristen Stewart like they've never seen her before in his Cannes entry "Clouds of Sils Maria."

"It's really something that you have not seen her in," says Assayas. "She's warm, funny, witty."

The film, which debuts Friday at Cannes, stars Juliette Binoche as a popular actress who's shattered by the competition of a young rival (Chloe Grace Moretz). She and her assistant (played by Stewart) withdraw to Sils Maria, Switzerland. For both Assayas, the French director of the Carlos the Jackal miniseries "Carlos" and the family drama "Summer Hours," and Stewart, it's an atypical collaboration connecting European art house and Hollywood.

"Actors are actors," says Assayas. "They are more or less the same in any culture."

Stewart was first suggested by "Sils Maria" producer Charles Gillibert, who produced the Jack Kerouac adaptation "On the Road" — which brought Stewart to Cannes two years ago. The "Twilight" star was unavailable, so Assayas and producers then cast Mia Wasikowska. But Wasikowska had to drop out, at which point Stewart's schedule opened up.

"Kristen, whatever image one has of her, ultimately she's just a great actress by any standard," says Assayas. "I was just completely amazed by the range of Kristen. I'm so honoured to be working with her at this moment when she's blossoming."

— Jake Coyle —


EDITOR'S NOTE — "Cannes Watch" shows you the Cannes Film Festival and the events surrounding it through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across Cannes and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.