Twenty seven years after Francis Ford Coppola walked away with a Palme d'Or for The Conversation and then repeated the feat five years later with Apocalypse Now, the festival is to dedicate a sidebar tribute to the filmmaker that will be crowned by an extended director's cut of Apocalypse Now.

Coppola, who also headed up the festival's jury in the year that Secrets And Lies won in 1996, collected the festival's top prize in 1979 with an unfinished version of Apocalypse Now that ended before that final air-strike seen in the theatrical version.

The new director's cut is understood to include the dinner party scene involving French colonists that was seen in the documentary footage shot by wife Eleanor Coppola and used in Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse.

The Coppola family Capo may not be the only member of the clan to appear on the Croisette. Although there seem to be some questions about its ability to secure a slot in the Official Selection, Captain Corelli's Mandolin might still make it to Cannes with nephew Nicolas Cage in tow. And son Roman Coppola, who appeared as an eight-year-old in Godfather Part 2, is expected to be in town with his directorial effort CQ that was produced by Coppola's American Zoetrope. Offered at AFM through Capitol Films, CQ could secure a berth in either Un Certain Regard or Director's Fortnight.

Another American Zoetrope production, Hal Hartley's Monster, already looks like a hot bet for competition. It could compete for this year's Palme d'Or with StudioCanal's Human Nature a film produced by Spike Jonze, now Coppola's new son-in-law after marrying his filmmaking daughter Sofia.

Other probable competition films this year include Nanni Moretti's La Stanza Del Figlio, Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Tequila Mambo, Zhang Yimou's Happy Times, Tom Tykwer's Heaven and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive.

The festival itself looks to be another banner year for French cinema and a return to form for Italy.

In addition to the Moretti, other Italian contenders include Ermanno Olmi's The Profession Of Arms (I Maestri dell'Arme) (StudioCanal) and the Tavianni brothers' Resurrection.

French frontrunners include Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie From Montmartre (UGC International), Andre Techine's Terminus Des Anges (UGC) Pitof's Vidocq (UGC), Francois Dupeyron's La Chambre Des Officiers, Cedric Kahn's Je Te Tue and Eric Rohmer's L'Anglaise Et Le Duc (Pathe International) and Catherine Corsini's La Repetition (Flach Pyramide).

If sellers are to be believed there could be a huge contingent of Asian pictures. Possibles include: Iwai Shunji's All About Lily Chou Chou (expected to be represented by Fortissimo), Zhang Yang's Quitting (Fortissimo), Tsai Ming Liang's What Time Is It There' (Arena Films) Stanley Kwan's Beijing Story (no sales agent), Mabel Cheung's Beijing Rocks! (Media Asia) which may feature in Directors Fortnight, and Hashiguch Ryosuke's Hush! (Fortissimo) which is probably heading for Un Certain Regard

Also in contention are the Japanese picture Distance by Hirokazu Kore-Eda about the aftermath of a cult massacre; Millennium Actress by director Satoshi Kon, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's untitled new picture, Mamora Oshii's Avalon a futuristic ghost story shot in Polish and now being eyed by Miramax Films.

Among the Asian period pieces are: Wisit's Sasanaitieng's Tears Of The Black Tiger (Fortissimo), a dramatic romance probably destined for Un Certain Regard; Vietnam war drama Song Of The Stork by first timers Jonathan Foo & Ngyuen Phan Quang Binh's and sold by Norway's BV International and Kim Sung-soo's The Warrior (CJ Entertainment), a Korean-financed swordfighting drama shot in China with much of the technical team behind Crouching Tiger and Zhang Ziyi in the cast.