With the Cannes Film Festival pulling out all the stops for a glittering 60th edition, the Asian selection promises to be the strongest in years.
New titles from Jiang Wen, Lee Chang-dong, Kim Ki-duk, Im Kwon-taek, Takeshi Kitano and Wang Xiaoshuai could line up next to Hou Hsiao-Hsien's first French-language film Le Ballon Rouge and Wong Kar-wai's first English-language effort My Blueberry Nights.
While the Cannes selection is not officially announced until April 19, a host of high-profile films are expected to unveil there including Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises, his first feature since Devils On The Doorstep won the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes 2000; Lee Chang Dong's Milyang, his first film since the internationally acclaimed Oasis (2002); and Im Kwon-taek's 100th film as a director Beyond The Years. Im has been in competition only twice before - in 2000 with Chunhyang and in 2002 with Chihwaseon.
Wang Xiaoshuai's latest, Left, Right will also likely be ready for the Croisette, where he won a jury prize for Shanghai Dreams two years ago.
The prolific Kim Ki-duk, who was first in Cannes in 2005 when The Bow played in Un Certain Regard, could be there again with his latest Breath, starring Taiwanese superstar Chang Chen as a death-row inmate.
From Japan, Takeshi Kitano, last in competition in 1999 with Kikujiro, will be ready with his latest Kantoku Banzai in which he himself plays a film director; and Shinji Aoyama, in competition in 2000 with Eureka and in 2001 with Desert Moon, could be back with Sad Vacation.
Other possibilities include the crime triptych Triangle directed by Tsui Hark; Ringo Lam and Johnnie To, To's latest stand-alone feature The Sparrow; Stephen Chow's science-fiction comedy A Hope; Alexi Tan's directorial debut Blood Brothers; and Pen-ek Ratanaruang's Ploy.
Hou's Le Ballon Rouge starring Juliette Binoche and shot in Paris late last year seems like a shoo-in, while Wong's My Blueberry Nights starring Norah Jones, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz is being tipped for an out-of-competition slot.
Ironically, several of these directors will be in Cannes anyway presenting three-minute short films they have made for the festival's Chacun Son Cinema project, a feature composed of 33 shorts made by some of the world's greatest film-makers, to screen on May 20.
Among those who have made shorts are Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Takeshi Kitano and Wong Kar-wai, as well as Chen Kaige, Tsai Ming Liang and Zhang Yimou.