Cannes, the world's biggest film festival, opens with Blindness, a movie by Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles. It ends on May 25. Following are some key facts about the festival.
* Originally conceived in 1939 as an alternative to the then-Fascist-influenced Venice Film Festival, Cannes has been held annually since 1946 apart from 1948 and 1950, when lack of funds led to cancellation of the event.
* In 1949 the stars started coming: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Norma Shearer, Errol Flynn and Edward G. Robinson all appeared that year. Brigitte Bardot made her first appearance in 1953.
* A year later, starlet Simone Silva dropped her bikini top beside Robert Mitchum in front of the photographers, resulting in the kind of racy coverage that secured the festival's reputation.
* In 1960, the first Cannes Market opened its doors to some 10 participants and one screen -- a canvas hung from the roof of the old Palais Croisette. It quickly became a major meeting point for buyers and sellers from all over the world.
* In 1968 film director Louis Malle, who was on that year's jury with Roman Polanski among others, was one of a group of filmmakers who forced the festival to close in the midst of the student and worker uprisings across France. After an all-night debate marked by raging tempers and an occasional fistfight, the organizers called it off.
* Jane Campion became the first female director to win the Palme d'Or in 1993 for her film The Piano.
* In 1997 a "Palme des Palmes" -- a super-version of the Palme d'Or best film prize -- was awarded to Ingmar Bergman for the 50th festival. The Swedish director did not appear.
* Romanian entry 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days walked away with the 2007 Palme d'Or for best film out of 22 in the main competition, a popular choice after critics had raved about its hard-hitting story simply but powerfully told.