Tarantino, Ang Lee, Loach line up for Cannes gold
Big names like Ken Loach or Spain's Pedro Almodovar dominate the race for the coveted Palme d'Or at the Riviera festival, opposite hot new Asian talent such as Johnnie To and the banned Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye.
Paris -- A wartime rampage by Quentin Tarantino and a trip to Woodstock with Ang Lee will square off with Ken Loach in a heavyweight battle for the top prize at next month's Cannes film festival.
Big names like Loach or Spain's Pedro Almodovar dominate the race for the coveted Palme d'Or at the Riviera festival, opposite hot new Asian talent such as Johnnie To and the banned Chinese filmmaker Lou Ye.
"All the great names of world cinema are here this year, and the old dogs have some fine new tricks in store," Thierry Fremaux, artistic director of the May 13-24 festival, told a news conference unveiling the selection on Thursday.
In a break with recent years, Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" (sic), a World War II saga starring Brad Pitt, is the sole US contender in a competition with a strong Asian and European tilt -- with six and 11 films respectively.
Asked about the shortage of US fare in the selection -- chosen among 1,670 films from 120 countries -- Fremaux suggested last year's Hollywood writers' strike prevented many US directors from wrapping in time for Cannes.
"The films whose launch was delayed 18 months ago were not ready in time for the selection," Fremaux said.
But US studios are still set to make a splash at the 62nd edition of the film industry's biggest annual fest, which opens for the first time in its history with a 3D animation movie, Pixar's "Up".
And Heath Ledger's last screen role -- the hotly-anticipated "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" by US director Terry Gilliam -- will get its world premiere at an off-competition screening.
Gilliam's film is expected to bring a raft of A-list stars to Cannes, including Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law, who stepped in to play parts of Ledger's role after the actor died last year.
The Middle East gets a look in with Elia Suleiman's "The Time That Remains," the story of a Palestinian family catapulted from the 1940s to the present and the director's first work since 2002.
On the Asian front, French rock icon Johnnie Hallyday takes the lead role in "Vengeance," the new crime flick by Hong Kong's To, while Malaysia's Tsai Ming-liang drew on an all-star French cast for his entry "Face."
Chinese filmmaker Lou, who was banned from making films in China for five years when he submitted "Summer Palace" to Cannes without Beijing's approval in 2005, returns with an erotic tale of three-way love, titled "Spring Fever."
Korea's Park Chan-wook, whose "Old Boy" wowed Cannes in 2004, is back with a vampire tale called "Thirst," while the Philippines' Brillante Mendoza is running with "Kinatay."
Festivalgoers will get a taste of the heady 1960s with Lee's latest offering, "Taking Woodstock," set during the epoch-defining US rock festival.
New Zealand's Jane Campion, the first woman to win the Palme d'Or for "The Piano" in 1992, returns with a film about romantic poet John Keats, "Bright Star."
She is joined in the race for Cannes gold by two European women directors: Spain's Isabel Coixet with "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" and young British director Angela Arnold with "Fish tank."
Oscar-winning Spaniard Almodovar also returns with "Broken Embraces," a multistrand drama starring Penelope Cruz, while previous Cannes winner Loach is competing with "Looking for Eric", starring footballer Eric Cantona.
The British director will go head to head with several fellow Palme winners, including Denmark's Lars von Trier who directed Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg in the horror film "Antichrist".
Austrian Cannes laureate Michael Haneke is running with "The White Ribbon," a movie about Fascism in early 20th-century Europe.
Nouvelle Vague veteran Alain Resnais is one of four French directors chosen to run, with "Les Herbes Folles" (Wild Grasses), a year after social drama "The Class" clinched France's first Palme d'Or in two decades.
The others are Xavier Giannoli, Jacques Audiard and Gaspar Noe, running alongside Italy's Marco Bellocchio, with a film called "Vincere" about Benito Mussolini's illegitimate son.
French actress Isabelle Huppert, a two-time best actress winner, heads the eight-member jury for the festival's 12 frenzied days of red-carpet screenings, showbiz parties and wheeling-and-dealing.
-- "Los Abrazos Rotos" (Broken Embraces) by Pedro Almodovar (Spain)
-- "Fish Tank" by Andrea Arnold (Britain)
-- "Un Prophete" (A Prophet) by Jacques Audiard (France)
-- "Vincere" (To Conquer) by Marco Bellocchio (Italy)
-- "Bright Star" by Jane Campion (New Zealand)
-- "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" by Isabel Coixet (Spain)
-- "A l'Origine" (In the Beginning) by Xavier Giannoli (France)
-- "Das Weisse Band" (The White Ribbon) by Michael Haneke (Germany)
-- "Taking Woodstock" by Ang Lee (Taiwan-United States)
-- "Looking for Eric" by Ken Loach (Britain)
-- "Spring Fever" by Lou Ye (China)
-- "Kinatay" by Brillante Mendoza (Philippines)
-- "Soudain le Vide" (Enter the Void) by Gaspar Noe (France)
-- "Bak-Jwi" (Thirst) by Park Chan-wook (South Korea)
-- "Les Herbes Folles" (Wild Grasses) by Alain Resnais (France)
-- "The Time That Remains" by Elia Suleiman (Palestinian)
-- "Inglourious Basterds" by Quentin Tarantino (United States)
-- "Vengeance" by Johnnie To (Hong Kong)
-- "Visages" (Face) by Tsai Ming-Liang (Malaysia)
-- "Antichrist" by Lars von Trier (Denmark)
Opening film: "Up" by Peter Docter (United States)
Closing film: "Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky" by Jan Kounen (France)
-- "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" by Terry Gilliam (United States)
-- "Agora" by Alejandro Amenabar (Spain)
-- "L'Armee du Crime" by Robert Guediguian (France)
- "Panique au village" ("A Town Called Panic") by Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar (Belgium)
- "Drag me to hell" by Sam Raimi (United States)
- "Ne te retourne pas" (Don't Look Back) by Marina de Van (France)
- "Mon voisin, mon tueur" ("My neighbor, my Killer") by Anne Aghion (France)
- "Manila" by Adolfo Alix Jr and Raya Martin (Philippines)
- "Min ye" by Souleymane Cisse (Mali)
- "L'Epine dans le Coeur" (A Thorn in the Heart) by Michel Gondry (France)
- "Petition" by Zhao Liang (China)
- "Jaffa" by Keren Yedaya (Israel)
Un Certain Regard:
- "Mother" de Bong Joon-Ho (South Korea)
- "Irene" by Alain Cavalier (France)
- "Precious" by Lee Daniels (United States)
- "Demain des l'Aube" (Tomorrow at Dawn) by Denis Dercourt (France)
- "A Deriva" (Adrift) by Heitor Dhalia (Brazil)
- "Kasi az Gorbehaye Irani Khabar Nadareh" (Nobody Knows About the Persian Cats) by Bahman Ghobadi (Iran)
- "Los Viajes del Viento" (The Wind Journeys) by Ciro Guerra (Colombia)
- "Le Pere de mes Enfants" (The Father of My Children) de Mia Hansen-Love (France)
- "Amintiri Din Epoca de Aur" (Tales from the Golden Age) by Hanno Hofer, Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Popescu and Ioana Uricaru (Romania)
- "Skazka pro Temnotu" (Tale in the Darkness) by Nikolay Khomeriki (Russia)
- "Air Doll" by Hirokazu Kore-Eda (Japan)
- "Kynodontas" (Dogtooth) by Yorgos Lanthimos (Greece)
- "Tzar" (Tsar) by Pavel Lungin (Russia)
- "Independencia" (Independence) by Raya Martin (Philippines)
- "Politist, Adjectiv" (Policeman, Adjective) by Corneliu Porumboiu (Romania)
- "Nang Mai" (Nymph) by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Thailand)
- "Morrer Como um Homem" (To Die Like a Man) by Joao Pedro Rodrigues (Portugal)
- "Eyes wide open" by Haim Tabakman (Israel)
- "Samson and Delilah" by Warwick Thornton (Australia)
- "The Silent Army" by Jean Van de Velde (Netherlands)