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Cannes Diary: The day before

Workers unroll the red carpet outside of the Cannes Palace Theatre for the 59th International film festival in 2006. (AP/Laurent Emmanuel)

I’m watching the film world descend upon Cannes. The festival starts Wednesday with a screening of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. But Tuesday, the famous red carpeted stairs, which have been photographed thousands of times, are still barren concrete – the red carpet is still to come.

Francois Hollande was sworn in Tuesday morning as the new French president; still, the mood seems strangely subdued.  French television and newspaper coverage has focused mostly on either the problems Hollande faces or on very American-style gossip (Ségolène Royal, former presidential candidate and Hollande’s ex-common-law-wife, did not show up for the ceremonies).

The first woman Hollande will see (this afternoon!) is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who holds the key (and the purse strings) to an economically-unraveling Europe. The continent’s economic woes are over the news: first it's the Greek crisis, then a report that the French economy failed to grow in the first quarter, then the story of a law suit against drug maker Servier over the use of a diabetes drug for weight loss, which has been implicated in over 300 deaths.

By the looks of the festival program, the themes of many of this year’s films weigh equally as heavy. Despite the presence of Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti, this year’s jury president, and a documentary about Woody Allen that screens Wednesday, laughter seems to be in short supply.

Related: Cannes Diary: A French media amuse-bouche

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