Three rising American directors — Sofia Coppola, Richard Linklater and Richard Kelly — will compete against Cannes veterans including Pedro Almodovar and Nanni Moretti for the top prize at this year's festival in May.
Coppola ("Lost in Translation") will show her "Marie-Antoinette" biopic, starring Kirsten Dunset, organizers said Thursday. Linklater ("Before Sunset") will offer up "Fast Food Nation," and Kelly ("Donnie Darko") will screen his genre-bending musical-comedy-thriller "Southland Tales."
Moretti, whose "Il Caimano (The Caiman)" serves up a fierce critique of Premier Silvio Berlusconi and modern-day Italy, is the only director in competition who has already won Cannes' top prize. "The Son's Room," about a family devastated by a child's death, took the coveted Palme d'Or in 2001.
Spain's Almodovar, named best director at Cannes for "All About My Mother" in 1999, is back with "Volver," starring Penelope Cruz as a gorgeous, feisty young woman whose mother comes back from the dead to tie up loose ends.
British moviemaker Ken Loach, a two-time winner of Cannes' jury prize, offers "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," set during the Irish war of independence and civil war.
Aki Kaurismaki of Finland, another Cannes regular, is back with "Laitakaupungin Valot (Lights in the Dusk)." When Kaurismaki won the grand prize, or second place, in 2002 for "The Man Without a Past," he got laughs for his self-congratulatory acceptance speech: "First of all, I'd like to thank myself."
Ron Howard's "The Da Vinci Code" will be the opening-night movie on May 17, but it is not competing for prizes. Hong Kong's Wong Kar-wai, director of "In the Mood for Love," presides over the jury at the festival, which runs through May 28.
Mexico has two films in competition: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("21 Grams") will show "Babel," starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and Guillermo Del Toro ("Hellboy") will show "El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)."
Three homegrown films are up for the top prize: "Selon Charlie (According to Charlie)" by Nicole Garcia, "Quand j'etais chanteur (When I Was a Singer)" by Xavier Giannoli and "Flandres (Flanders)" by Bruno Dumont.
Dumont caused a sensation at Cannes in 1999 with "Humanity," a slow-moving, sexually explicit tale of a small-town cop investigating a sordid murder. It won second place and two acting prizes — though neither of the stars were professional actors.
A French-Algerian director is competing under Algeria's flag. Rachid Bouchareb's "Indigenes (Natives)" tells the long-neglected story of World War II soldiers recruited from France's colonies.
Other movies in competition include "La Raison du Plus Faible (The Weakest Is Always Right)" by Lucas Belvaux of Belgium; "Iklimler" by Nuri Bilge Ceylan of Turkey; "L'Amico di Famiglia (The Family Friend)" by Paolo Sorrentino of Italy; "Juventude Em Marcha (Youth on the Move)" by Pedro Costa of Portugal; and "Summer Palace" by Lou Ye of China.