The selection announced Wednesday includes 22 films competing for the festival's biggest prize: the Palme d'Or. Three former winners are returning: British director Mike Leigh (“Secrets & Lies”), Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (“The Taste of Cherry”), and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne of Belgium (“Rosetta”).
Among the U.S. entries, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (“Roger & Me”) will present “Bowling for Columbine,” which takes a look at the gun culture, starting with the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.
Also on the slate is the fourth film from Paul Thomas Anderson (“Magnolia”), titled “Punch-Drunk Love” and starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. Young director Alexander Payne (“Election”) presents “About Schmidt,” with Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates, about a man trying to run his daughter's life.
Roman Polanski (“Rosemary's Baby”) will be at Cannes with “The Pianist,” with Adrien Brody, about a man who survives the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. And David Cronenberg, the Canadian director who headed the Cannes jury in 1999, is back with “Spider,” about a man with acute schizophrenia, starring Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson and Lynn Redgrave.
One of the most familiar faces at Cannes, British director Ken Loach, is back with “Sweet Sixteen.” Britain is also represented by Leigh with “All or Nothing,” about a long weekend in a London working-class housing project, and Michael Winterbottom, with “24-Hour Party People.”
Israeli director Amos Gitai, who presented “Kadosh” and “Kippur,” is back for the third time in four years with “Kedma.” Elia Suleiman, a Palestinian, presents “Intervention Divine.”
“Here, the Cannes competition makes room for two films that are two acts of peace,” said festival director Thierry Fremaux.
From Asia, South Korean director Im Kwon-taek, who presented the visually sumptuous “Chunhyang” in 2000, is back with “Chihwaseon.” China is represented by Jia Zhang Ke's “Ren Xiao Yao,” or “Unknown Pleasures.”
Four French films are in competition: “Demonlover” by Olivier Assayas; “Irreversible” by Gaspar Noe, with Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel; “L'adversaire” by Nicole Garcia, with Daniel Auteuil; and “Marie-Jo et ses deux amours” by Robert Guediguian.
Kiarostami is back with “10,” and the Dardenne brothers are presenting “Le Fils (The Son.)”
Appearing out of competition, Woody Allen's latest film, “Hollywood Ending,” will open the festival — a coup for organizers who have long wanted to lure the reclusive New York filmmaker to the Riviera.
“Hollywood Ending” is about a down-and-out director who goes to work for his ex-wife (Tea Leoni).
“And Now ... Ladies And Gentlemen,” by French director Claude Lelouch, will close the festival.
Actresses Sharon Stone of “Basic Instinct” and Michelle Yeoh of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” will take part in the nine-member jury awarding the Palme d'Or. Heading the jury will be famously quirky director David Lynch, director of “Blue Velvet,” “The Straight Story” and “Mulholland Drive.”
By JOCELYN NOVECK