Dir: Fernando Meirelles
The story: Blindness is based on the novel by Nobel prize-winner Jose Saramago in which a cataclysm of unknown origin sweeps through a city, rendering everyone blind. As society disintegrates, a small group struggles to hold on to the bond they have formed.
The cast: A powerful ensemble led by Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover and Gael Garcia Bernal.
The buzz: Couldn't be buzzier, especially after Cannes threw everyone a curve by making this a late addition. Meirelles' virtuosity combined with Don McKellar's potent script adapted from a famous book. High-concept yet deeply philosophical. Meirelles' City Of God screened out of competition in 2002.
Int'l sales: Focus Features International, (44) 20 7307 1330
Three Monkeys (Tur-Fr-It)
Dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
The story: Tragedy strikes when a family chooses to cover up the truth by playing 'three monkeys' - to not see, hear or talk about it.
The cast: Renowned Turkish singer Yavuz Bingol, with Hatice Aslan and Ercan Kesal.
The buzz: This is Ceylan's third appearance in Competition following Distant, which won the Grand Jury Prize and the best actor award in 2003, and Climates, which took the Fipresci honours in 2006.
Int'l sales: Pyramide International, (33) 1 4296 0101
Lorna's Silence (Le Silence De Lorna) (Fr-Bel)
Dirs: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
The story: A young Albanian woman enters into an arranged marriage to acquire her Belgian papers. She then plans to marry a Russian mobster, who will pay for access to the documents.
The cast: Arta Dobroshi plays Lorna, having previously starred in festival hit Magic Eye. Jeremie Renier, who starred in the Dardennes' The Child, also appears.
The buzz: The Dardennes brothers will make history if they win the Palme d'Or for a third time. Having previously picked up the top prize for Rosetta in 1999 and L'Enfant in 2005, this is their fourth time in Competition.
Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams, (33) 01 4970 8320
A Christmas Story (Fr)
Dir: Arnaud Desplechin
The story: A family is torn apart by the death of a child.
The cast: Catherine Deneuve, her daughter Chiara Mastroianni and star of The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (and new Bond villain) Mathieu Amalric.
The buzz: Desplechin is in Competition in Cannes for the fourth time with a film that has generated strong buzz since it was first announced at the Paris screenings in January.
Int'l sales: Wild Bunch, (33) 01 5301 5020
Dir: Clint Eastwood
The story: J Michael Straczynski's script is based on true events that took place in 1920s Los Angeles, surrounding the kidnap of a child. The child's mother prays he returns safely and indeed he does, but she slowly begins to suspect the boy is not her own.
The cast: Angelina Jolie heads up a strong cast, which also includes John Malkovich, Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), Canadian staple Colm Feore and Jeffrey Donovan.
The buzz: Changeling is the first film Eastwood has made outside Warner Bros for over a decade, teaming him with Universal-based Imagine Entertainment and returning him to Competition for the first time since 2003's Mystic River. While that film failed to win the big prizes at Cannes, it went on to a rich end-of-year awards run, bagging acting Oscars for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. Eastwood is now working on his next film, Gran Torino, which is set to open through Warner Bros in December, just a month after the November 7 US release date for Changeling. Buzz surrounding both films is high, given Eastwood's late-career renaissance.
Int'l distribution: Universal Pictures International
Dir: Atom Egoyan
The story: A teenage boy posts a terrorism plot online as part of a school project. The authorities take it seriously.
The cast: Canadian actors Scott Speedman and Rachel Blanchard (the latter appeared in Egoyan's Where The Truth Lies in 2005).
The buzz: Competition veteran Egoyan takes his fascination with the dichotomy between reality and representation into cyberspace.
Int'l sales: Maximum Films International, (1) 41 6960 0300
Dir: Kornel Mundruczo
The story: A young man returns to his childhood home and attempts to start a new life with his half sister.
The cast: Orsolya Toth previously starred in Mundruczo's 2005 film Johanna, for which she picked up several best actress awards on the festival circuit. Her co-star Felix Lajko, who is also the film's composer, stepped in when Lajos Bertok died during filming.
The buzz: The winner of the best picture and Fipresci awards at this year's Hungarian Film Week. Critics praised Delta's camerawork and stunning natural imagery, which enhance Mundruczo's haunting story.
Int'l sales: The Coproduction Office, (33) 1 56 02 60 00
The Headless Woman (La Mujer Sin Cabeza) (Arg-Sp)
Dir: Lucrecia Martel
The story: A psychological thriller about a woman whose life takes a bizarre and frightening turn when she accidentally kills a dog with her car.
The cast: Argentinian actresses Maria Onetto, Ines Efron and veteran Maria Vaner.
The buzz: Martel's third feature, and her second to be screened in Competition following 2004's The Holy Girl. It is a co-production with Pedro and Agustin Almodovar's El Deseo.
Int'l sales: Focus Features, (1) 212 539 4000
Dir: Brillante Mendoza
The story: A day in the life of a theatre owner, awaiting the verdict against her bigamous husband.
The cast: Award-winning local actresses Gina Pareno and Jaclyn Jose, plus Mendoza regulars Coco Martin and Kristoffer King.
The buzz: Mendoza is the first Filipino director to compete in Cannes in 24 years - the last was Lino Brocka's Bayan Ko in 1984. Mendoza's Foster Child played in Directors' Fortnight last year.
Int'l sales: Fortissimo Films, (852) 2311 8081
The Class (Entre Les Murs) (Fr)
Dir: Laurent Cantet
The story: A drama about a teacher preparing for a new year in a tough high school. When his students begin to question his teaching methods, he must rise to the challenge.
The cast: The cast is made up almost entirely of unknowns. Francois Begaudeau, who plays the main character, is a real-life teacher on whose book the film is based.
The buzz: This is Cantet's first time in Cannes, although his films such as Human Resources, Time Out and Heading South have won prizes and critical acclaim at home and abroad. Word of mouth suggests it is one of the director's most accomplished works, achieved by working with non-professionals and turning real-life situations into a cinematic experience.
Int'l sales: Memento Films, (33) 1 53 34 90 20
Waltz With Bashir (Is)
Dir: Ari Folman
The story: Through a series of interviews, a film director tries to reconstruct his fading memories of the 1982 Lebanon War in this innovative animation.
The buzz: A powerful anti-war statement that may turn out to be highly controversial.
Int'l sales company: The Match Factory, (49) 221 539 7090
Frontier Of Dawn (La Frontiere De L'Aube) (Fr)
Dir: Philippe Garrel
The story: A film star is left on her own when her husband begins an affair with a photographer.
The cast: Louis Garrel collaborates with his director-father for the first time since 2005's Regular Lovers. Co-star Laura Smet, the daughter of Nathalie Baye and Johnny Hallyday, was nominated for a Cesar for 2003's Les Corps Impatients.
The buzz: Expectations are high as this is the first time in his 40-year career that Garrel has appeared in Competition.
Int'l sales: Les Films du Losange, (33) 1 44 43 87 10
Il Divo (It)
Dir: Paolo Sorrentino
The story: A drama inspired by larger-than-life former Italian premier Giulio Andreotti, who had controversial associations with the Mafia and the Catholic Church.
The cast: Toni Servillo, a veteran Sorrentino cast member, plays Andreotti.
The buzz: The real Andreotti, now in his 80s, says he wished Sorrentino had 'waited until he was already dead' before making the film. This is Sorrentino's third time in Competition, following The Consequences Of Love in 2004 and The Family Friend in 2006.
Int'l sales: Beta Film, (49) 151 5445 8921
Leonera (Arg-S Kor)
Dir: Pablo Trapero
The story: A drama about a university student who accidentally kills her lover. The woman, who is pregnant and has no criminal record, is sent to jail, where she gives birth to a son. The story is inspired by a real prison for convicted mothers who try to raise their prison-born children.
The cast: Martina Gusman, who previously appeared in Trapero's Born And Bred, is also the director's wife and executive producer of all his films since El Bonaerense.
The buzz: A co-production between Trapero's Matanza Cine, Patagonik Film Group (Argentina), Walter Salles' VideoFilmes (Brazil) and Cineclick Asia (South Korea), this is Trapero's first film to be screened in Competition. El Bonaerense premiered at Un Certain Regard in 2002.
Int'l sales: Cineclick Asia/Fantom Co, (822) 538 0211
Dir: Matteo Garrone
The story: Six stories intersect in a dramatic account of the organised crime scene in Naples.
The cast: The star is Toni Servillo, an award-winning Neapolitan actor. Servillo also stars in Italy's other Competition entry, Il Divo.
The buzz: Garrone has adapted Roberto Saviano's expose of criminal organisation the Camorra with the author. It is Garrone's first time in Competition following an outing in Directors' Fortnight in 2002 with The Embalmer.
Int'l sales: Fandango Portobello Sales, (39) 347 524 8172
In Cannes: (33) 04 93 43 42 32
Two Lovers (US)
Dir: James Gray
The story: A bachelor in Brooklyn falls for his volatile neighbour, even though his parents are pressuring him to marry a family friend.
The cast: Joaquin Phoenix, who starred in Gray's last two films, returns in the lead role alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, Isabella Rossellini and Elias Koteas.
The buzz: Cannes favourite Gray is in Competition for the third time with Two Lovers after The Yards in 2000 and We Own The Night last year. Like We Own The Night, it is financed by 2929 Entertainment and is going into Cannes without a domestic distribution deal attached, although the Phoenix/Paltrow combination should make it a hot ticket.
Int'l sales: 2929 International/Wild Bunch, (33) 1 5301 5020
Palermo Shooting (Ger)
Dir: Wim Wenders
The story: A successful photographer has an existential crisis and sets off on a journey from Dusseldorf to Palermo in an attempt to find the meaning of life.
The cast: German rock star Campino appears in his second feature film, alongside Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Dennis Hopper, Lou Reed and Patti Smith.
The buzz: Wenders' first film to be shot in Germany and Europe for 15 years. He has a long association with Cannes, winning the Palme d'Or for Paris, Texas in 1984, best director for Wings Of Desire in 1987 and the Grand Jury Prize for Faraway, So Close! in 1993.
Int'l sales: HanWay Films, (44) 20 7290 0750
Linha De Passe (Braz)
Dirs: Daniela Thomas, Walter Salles
The story: A group of brothers struggle to become successful footballers in Brazil.
The cast: Vinicius de Oliveira, the young boy Salles discovered to play the lead in his 1998 film Central Station, stars.
The buzz: This is Salles' second time in Competition, following 2004's The Motorcycle Diaries. It is also the director's first Portuguese-language film since 2001's Behind The Sun, following his international work on projects such as the English-language Dark Water.
Int'l sales: Pathe Pictures International, (44) 20 7462 4439
Dir: Jia Zhangke
The story: Jia uses documentary and drama to tell the story of three generations of women whose lives bear witness to the rise and fall of a giant factory in their town.
The cast: Chinese superstar Joan Chen with local actors Zhao Tao, Lv Liping and Chen Jianbin.
The buzz: This is the second time in Cannes Competition for Jia, who usually premieres his films in Venice, following Unknown Pleasures in 2002. The film blends documentary footage the director had been shooting for a year and a feature he started filming at the end of March.
Int'l sales: MK2, (33) 1 44 67 30 00
Dir: Steven Soderbergh
The story: Two films by Soderbergh, The Argentine and Guerrilla, will screen as a single four-hour film. The first follows Che Guevara as he arrives in Cuba from Mexico in 1956 and helps Castro unseat the Batista regime. The second begins with his trip to New York, where he spoke at the United Nations in 1964, followed by his disappearance into the jungles of South America and his eventual death in Bolivia.
The cast: Benicio Del Toro plays Guevara, leading a cast of well-known actors including Franka Potente, Julia Ormond, Benjamin Bratt, Lou Diamond Phillips and Catalina Sandino Moreno.
The buzz: Although there is plenty of excitement about Soderbergh's Spanish-language opus, no domestic buyer has yet taken the risk on the costly venture. The director has been working furiously to complete the films. He won the Palme d'Or in 1989 for his first film, sex, lies and videotape, and was also in Competition in 1993 with King Of The Hill. The Limey (1999) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007) played out of competition.
Int'l sales company: Wild Bunch, (33) 01 5301 5020
My Magic (Singapore)
Dir: Eric Khoo
The story: Tamil-language film about a destitute single father who hopes to redeem himself and win his young son's love and respect.
The cast: Francis Bosco is a professional fire-eater and magician in Singapore, and 14-year-old Jathishweran Naidu is a student.
The buzz: The first Singaporean film to screen in Competition. Khoo's Be With Me opened Directors' Fortnight in 2005, while his 12 Storeys played in Un Certain Regard in 1997.
Int'l sales: Wild Bunch, (33) 1 5301 5020
Synecdoche, New York (US)
Dir: Charlie Kaufman
The story: Theatre director Caden Cotard mounts an epic play to contribute something of artistic value to the world. He gathers an ensemble cast in a warehouse, inside which he has built a replica of New York City. The play never finishes, only becoming bigger and bigger as the years pass.
The cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman stars with a supporting cast largely composed of actresses playing the women in his life - Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Williams, Hope Davis, Robin Weigert, Emily Watson and Dianne Wiest.
The buzz: US buyers are waiting for Cannes before deciding whether to step up for Kaufman's first film as a director, which is from one of his most enigmatic and cerebral scripts to date. The title itself, for example, is a pun on Caden's hometown of Schenectady, New York, but also refers to the grammatical term 'synecdoche', which is when a part of something is used to characterise the whole.
Int'l sales: Kimmel International, (1) 212 431 5550