The tragedies of the real world -- the quake that rocked China and the cyclone that devastated Myanmar -- invaded the fantasy world of movies as the Cannes film festival moved into top gear today.
The red-carpet gala opening was as star-studded as ever but despite the glitz the party got off to a sombre start with a nightmarish parable of the apocalypse.
Blindness, a Brazilian movie in which the government of an unnamed country locks up and then abandons citizens afflicted by a blinding plague, opened the 12-day bonanza whose centrepiece will be the long-awaited return of Indiana Jones.
The Latin American film is "a metaphor that applies to any official neglect," said its scriptwriter Don McKellar.
There were obvious parallels between the story, starring Julianne Moore, and the reaction to disasters such as the cyclone in Myanmar, where the junta is blocking foreign aid offered to help survivors of the cyclone that killed tens of thousands, said director Fernando Meirelles.
The earthquake that struck this week in China leaving more than 40,000 dead, missing or buried under rubble was also felt in Cannes.
24 City, a movie by China's Jia Zhangke set in Chengdu city in the quake-hit province, is among the 22 films in the running for the coveted Palme d'Or top prize.
Sean Penn, the US actor and director heading the jury that will decide on the prize, said events like the earthquake and the Myanmar cyclone showed the inefficiency of government responses to such disasters.
"When these things happen, all these governments, and I include mine, their control over people ... Their keeping people from getting help when they need it, they've got to be pushed out of the way by people," he told reporters.