Messi the dog comes to Cannes for an encore

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CANNES, France (AP) — The first star to arrive on the red carpet at the 77th Cannes Film Festival came on four legs.

Messi, the dog from the film “Anatomy of a Fall,” walked up and down the Cannes carpet on Tuesday ahead of the opening ceremony. Lines of tuxedo-clad photographers called out “Messi! Messi” while the border collie strolled past and climbed the stairs to the Palais des Festivals. There, he sat and held his front paws up in the air, like a movie star waving to the crowd.

For some 20 minutes, Messi had Cannes' complete attention while frolicking on the carpet. His bark echoed down the Croisette. The red carpet went unsoiled.

For Messi, it was a kind of return to the scene of the crime. Justine Triet's murder mystery “Anatomy of a Fall” last year premiered in Cannes where it went on to win the festival's top award, the Palme d'Or. Messi — Snoop in the film — won the Palm Dog, a journalist-created prize for the festival's top dog.

And as “Anatomy of a Fall,” in which the dog's perspective holds certain keys to the whodunit, continued through awards season, Messi emerged as Hollywood's favorite new pooch and a particularly cuddly Oscar campaign prop. He attended both the academy luncheon of nominees and the Oscar ceremony. “Anatomy of a Fall” won best original screenplay.

Messi isn't in Cannes just for an encore bow/bone. The festival is shooting daily one-minute videos of Messi for French television that will be collected for a TikTok video. On Tuesday, he carried a camera stick in his teeth.