By Michael Roddy and Julien Pretot
CANNES, France (Reuters) - The world's most important film festival is about to start in Cannes with a mix of starpower, art house cinema, Hollywood blockbusters and everything in between, though its director would be happier if the "selfie" had never been invented.
After making a selection from 1,854 films, festival director Thierry Fremaux said this edition, which opens on Wednesday, would stand out for the new names it introduces.
"We put new names on the map and we'll see in 12 days what will be the result of everything," he told Reuters.
Apart from the screening, parties and deal-making that mark the festival every year, Fremaux has had to consider an activity of more recent origin - selfies - and what they mean for Cannes.
"We have 2,200 people entering in the main theater and if every one of them makes three stops to take a photo of himself, I mean, the process is very slow," he said.
"The film could be late and in Cannes, we respect time," said Fremaux, who thinks selfies are "ridiculous and grotesque".
There will be plenty of familiar faces at the festival this year, with the feature film jury being presided by Joel and Ethan Coen.
The 2012 jury president, Nanni Moretti, is in competition with "Mia Madre" as well as Palme d'Or laureate Gus van Sant ("The Sea of Trees") and Todd Haynes ("Carol").
Hollywood is pitching in by holding the world premiere for "Mad Max: Fury Road" on Thursday, and there will be plenty of other Hollywood and world stars on the red carpet.
Fremaux, however, was disappointed by the American cinema's offering. "It's wonderful to have Gus Van Sant, to have Todd Haynes, to have Woody Allen or to have George Miller - he's Australian but it's an American film," he said. "But in America, they must pay more attention to auteur cinema."
Variety critic Jay Weissberg said the most anticipated film could well be a new version of Shakespeare's much-filmed "Macbeth", starring French actress Marion Cotillard and Germany's Michael Fassbender.
"These are two powerhouse actors, actors who we respect enormously who've shown an extraordinary range...It's one of the most anticipated titles," he said.
The festival will open for the first time with a woman director's film, "La Tete Haute" by Emmanuelle Bercot and starring French icon Catherine Deneuve, but Weissberg thought that did little to compensate for a general lack of women in the directing profession.
"We need to ask why there aren't more women directors...We need the profession of director to be more open to women."
Other films in the various festival strands deal with heavy topics of prostitution and poverty in Latin America, but Weissberg said the lineup still had what it takes to put Cannes on the world media map and in the pages of the glossy fanzines.
"Cannes has to be a combination of glamour combined with kitsch combined with a sort of cheap glamour, sexy glamour as well as the more meaty part of the festival which is why most of us are here."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot, Matthew Stock, Rollo Ross and Michael Roddy; Editing by Tom Heneghan)