Hollywood stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts grabbed the Cannes' spotlight on Thursday presenting a new fast-paced thriller that probes the sense of frustration and anger about political life felt by many around the world.

In the movie from US director Jodie Foster, Clooney stars as celebrated TV financial guru Lee Gates, who is taken hostage by an irate investor armed with a gun and an explosive vest while Roberts plays his harassed producer, Patty Fenn frantically trying to release him.

The hostage taker represented "a kind of rage that a lot of people feel about the abuses of technology and the abuses of the financial system and being left behind," the 53-year-old Foster told a Cannes press conference marking the premiere of the film, Money Monster.

She went on to say that in a sense these were the themes that the presumptive Republican Party candidate Donald Trump has made part of his campaign for president.

But Clooney vowed Trump would never become US president. "There is not going to be a President Trump," he said.

Clooney blamed the New York businessman's political rise on the need for US television networks to boost their ratings - as was the case in Money Monster - by mixing entertainment with news.

"It's not going to happen because fear is not going to be something that drives our country," Clooney said, adding that Americans are not afraid of Muslims or women or refugees, the last of which he described as the biggest crisis facing the world.

Clooney has already declared his support for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The 55-year-old star has in the past condemned the Iraq war, campaigned against genocide in Darfur, Sudan, endorsed US President Barack Obama, and raised millions of dollars for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Foster's Money Monster also adds to the list of movies that have been made about the darker side of global finance such as The Wolf of Wall Street, Margin Call and The Big Short.

Money Monster shows the dramatic standoff – portrayed as being broadcast on live TV - between the Clooney character and the hostage taker Kyle Budwell, played by up-and-coming British-born actor Jack O’Connell.

"This is sort of now reflecting that we've gotten used to idea that some schmuck can get on TV an tell you where to put your money and then they listen to him and people lose money in real life," said Clooney.

In the case of Kyle Budwell in Money Monster, he wants to know what happened to a 60,000-dollar venture that vanished overnight.

Money Monster marks the 48-year-old Roberts' first appearance at the festival despite a movie career stretching back to the 1980's.

The last time that Roberts and Clooney appeared together on the silver screen was 12 years ago in the heist comedy Ocean's Twelve.

Foster, who began her acting career at age 3, is a Cannes' favourite after making her first appearance at the festival aged 12 in Taxi Driver.

A two-time Oscar winner, Foster has also acted in such hits Alice Doesn't Live Anymore and The Silence of the Lambs. But more recently described directing as her true passion.

For her part, Roberts ruled out directing, saying she knew her limitations. "I can't have more than four people ask me a question in one hour," she said.

Money Monster is one of a slew of US films being screened in this year’s Cannes, including Arkansas-born director Jeff Nichols' hard-hitting take on inter-marriage in 1950s America and a drama from Sean Penn set in war-torn Liberia.

Penn and Nichols' films are two of the 21 movies competing for the festival's prestigious prizes, including the Palme d’Or for best picture.

Veteran US director Woody Allen’s Cafe Society, a light and nostalgic look at Hollywood in the 1930's, opened the 11-day festival on Wednesday amid unprecedented security following the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks.

Like Cafe Society, Money Monster was screened as an out of competition film in Cannes, which means that it is not in the running for any prizes.

Romanian director Cristi Puiu joined French director Alain Guiraudie on Thursday in helping to launch the race for the Palme d'Or in portrayals of different social and political tensions to Money Monster.

Set in Bucharest, Puis' film exposes the deep rifts that have emerged in Romanian society since the collapse of communism in December 1989.

Guiraudie's Rester Vertical (Staying Vertical) comes three years after his critically acclaimed gay thriller L'Inconnu du Lac (Stranger by the Lake) and tells the story of a man, who is left to care for his baby son after the mother abandoned them.

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