The selections announced Wednesday include films by three former winners of the Palme d'Or, the festival's biggest prize: 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 and latest 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 the 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," about a down-and-out director who goes to work for his ex (Tea Leoni), will open the festival on May 15 — a coup for organizers who have long wanted to lure the reclusive New York filmmaker to the Riviera.
"And Now ... Ladies And Gentlemen," by French director Claude Lelouch, will close the festival on May 26.
Actresses Sharon Stone and Michelle Yeoh will take part in the nine-member jury awarding the Palme d'Or, presided over by David Lynch, the famously quirky director of "Blue Velvet," "The Straight Story" and "Mulholland Drive."
Along with Stone, of "Basic Instinct" and "Casino" fame, and Yeoh, the ex-Bond girl and Malaysian-born star of Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," the jury features Indonesian actress Christine Hakim; French directors Claude Miller and Regis Wargnier; Danish director Bille August ("Pelle the Conqueror"); Chilean-born director Raoul Ruiz ("Time Regained") and Brazil's Walter Salles, director of "Central Station."