Allen rejects Jewish group's Cannes boycott call

American-Jewish director Woody Allen has said he could see no reason to boycott the Cannes Film Festival after far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen’s shock success at the French polls.

American-Jewish director Woody Allen has said he could see no reason to boycott the Cannes Film Festival after far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen’s shock success at the French polls.

American stars were being urged to boycott the French film festival this year by a Jewish group in the US after the National Front’s frontman won enough votes to go through to the final round of the presidential election, only to be resoundingly beaten by Jacques Chirac.

Allen said: ‘‘I have never felt that the French people in any way were anti-Semitic.

‘‘One can be very proud of the way they responded in the last election.

‘‘People who never voted in years felt they should come out and show that France was a democracy with no patience for the terrible ideas of the extreme right.

‘‘One can be very proud of France for the way they acquitted themselves in the last election and I don’t feel a boycott is in order.’’

Hollywood actress Sharon Stone also shunned the boycott as she made one of first public appearances since she suffered a debilitating stroke.

The 44-year-old Basic Instinct star suffered the potentially life-threatening stroke last September and was rumoured to have been admitted to hospital in San Francisco a few days ago after another health setback.

But she was well enough to attend the Cannes Film Festival yesterday where she is on the Grand Jury panel for the prestigious Palme d’Or competition.

Some 82% voted for Jacques Chirac and Stone applauded them, but she said the result showed that many French citizens agreed with Le Pen’s extreme right-wing views.

‘‘I think you have 18% of the population who are anti-Semitic,’’ she said.

‘‘The fellow who won got 82% which is an overwhelming percentage of the vote. In my country you call that a landslide.’’

Stone said she disagreed with the idea of a boycott because the vast majority of French people had rejected Le Pen’s views.

‘‘That’s a place where I want to be, not a place I want to boycott,’’ she said.

Stone looked as glamorous as ever as she posed for photographers in a chic beige trouser suit.

But at a subsequent press conference there were signs that she was not quite her former self, at times appearing tired and labouring over her answers.

Stone took time off from Hollywood two years ago to raise her adopted son Roan with husband Phil Bronstein.

Her return to the movie business was then put on hold after she suffered the stroke and the time away from Hollywood has caused her to re-evaluate her career, she said.

The star, whose most famous scene saw her uncross her legs to reveal her lack of underwear in Basic Instinct, said she now felt ‘‘embarrassed’’ to be posing for the paparazzi and was happier in her role as a wife and mother.

‘‘For two years I have been called ‘Mama’ or ‘Honey’ so it feels silly having all these photographers shouting out my name. It’s really kind of weird,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m now more comfortable being a mom and I’ve learned that I want to bring the qualities of being a mom into my new roles.’’

Stone hit out at ageism in Hollywood and said from now on she would be happy to play a middle-aged woman on screen.

‘‘I don’t know what movies I’m going to make so I don’t really know how it’s going to be. I just know that I want to represent fairly a woman of my real age,’’ she said.

‘‘When I went to the Oscars it was like, ‘Oh, there’s been an archaeological dig and look what we’ve found, a 40-year-old’.

‘‘I don’t want to be part of some big feminist drama, I don’t want it to be a big deal. It’s just part of the normal, simple evolution of your life.’’

Stone said she would be spending less time in the ‘‘bright light’’ of Hollywood and would instead concentrate on playing supporting roles and working on the other side of the camera.

She later attended the premiere of Hollywood Ending, wearing a floor length leopard-print dress with a revealing plunge neckline and 24 carat diamond drop earrings from jewellers Chopard.

The actress blew kisses to the crowds who packed the street outside the Palais du Festival to watch the stars arrive.

She was with fellow Grand Jury members David Lynch and Michelle Yeoh, who wore a white halter-neck gown.

The festival will run for the next 12 days and the winner of the Palme d’Or will be announced on the final day.

Veteran British directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh are in contention, as is Michael Winterbottom with the recently released 24 Hour Party People.

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