The Cannes Film Festival, now underway in southern France, offers an interesting blend of the high and low in the world of international cinema, according to cultural critic and film programmer Jesse Wente.

The prestigious annual event got underway Wednesday evening with a star-studded opening night screening of The Great Gatsby, already released in North America.

"The world's best art cinema debuts here... and at the same time you see giant posters for the next Hunger Games movie. It's sort of where commerce and art and the whole movie world comes to meet," said Wente, the longtime CBC contributor and head of film programs for TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.

Wente talked to Metro Morning's Matt Galloway about the festival's curious opening-night choice of The Great Gatsby, the familiar names who've brought films to compete this year and the spare bunch of Canadian films that are screening at the French fest.

The 66th Cannes Film Festival continues through May 26.