2006 Cannes Film Festival Preview

Palm trees and glamor adorn the famous red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in this photo provided by festival organizers.
Festival de Cannes
Filmmakers, celebrities and the international media will descend on the French Riviera for the "grand dame" of the international film festival circuit: the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off on May 17.

More than 60 films representing dozens of countries were selected by the official festival committee for screening, including 48 world premieres. The Official Selection is divided up between films presented in the Competition, Un Certain Regard and Out of Competition screenings.

The festival kicks off May 17 with the Out of Competition premiere of Ron Howard's "The Da Vinci Code" starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou. Three other Hollywood films screening, but not competing, during the 11-day festival are Paul Greengrass' "United 93," Brett Ratner's "X-Men: The Last Stand" and Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick's animated feature "Over The Hedge."

There are 20 films from 13 countries in the Competition category, which will compete for the festival's top prizes, including the Palme D'Or (Golden Palm) and the Grand Prix (Grand Prize). Among the films competing in the Competition this year are:

"Volver" a comedy directed by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar ("All About My Mother," "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown"). The film stars Almodovar regular Carmen Maura as a ghost who comes back to her hometown to right the wrongs of her life. Penelope Cruz stars as her daughter.

"The Wind That Shakes The Barley" by British director Ken Loach ("Sweet Sixteen," "Bread and Roses".) The historical drama is a sympathetic portrayal of Irish Republicans in the early 20th Century.

"Marie-Antoinette" by Sofia Coppola ("Lost In Translation", "The Virgin Suicides") stars Kirsten Dunst as the famous French queen and Jason Schwartzman as King Louis XVI.

"Babel" by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu ("21 Grams," "Amores Perros") stars Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and Gael Garcia Bernal. The drama weaves together separate stories of four sets of strangers across three continents who are connected by a single tragic event.

"Fast Food Nation" directed by Richard Linklater ("Bad News Bears," "School of Rock") and starring Patricia Arquette, Bobby Cannavale, Greg Kinnear, Avril Lavigne and Catalina Sandino Moreno. The ensemble drama is inspired by Eric Schlosser's 2001 expose of the fast food industry.

"Southland Tales" directed by Richard Kelly ("Donnie Darko"). The film is an ensemble sci-fi musical comedy starring The Rock, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Mandy Moore. Others in the huge cast include Justin Timberlake, Amy Poehler, Jon Lovitz and John Larroquette.