CannesFestival organisers have announced the official lineup for this year's edition, with 19 films competing for the Palmed'Or - one less than 2005.

Many filmshad been predicted prior to the announcement, including Pedro Almodovar's Volver, SofiaCoppola's Marie-Antoinette, Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth,Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Babel, Aki Kaurismaki'sLights In The Dusk and NanniMoretti's The Caiman.

France is represented by three titles inCompetition: Nicole Garcia's Selon Charlie, Xavier Giannoli's Quand J'etais Chanteur, and BrunoDumont's Flandres, with all three directors makingrepeat trips to the Croisette. Algerian direcor RachidBouchareb's Indigenes (Days OfGlory), about Africans fighting for France during the Second World War, isalso listed as a French title.

But despitethe re-appearance of names, including Ken Loach with The Wind That Shakes The Barley, festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux said, "If 2005 marked the return of the grand auteurs, this year is the contrary with new namesand films that could surprise us."

Certainlysurprising was the slim pickings for Asian titles in either Competition or UnCertain Regard, contrary to recent trends. Japan will not be represented in officialselection at all in 2006.

Along withCoppola, other US directors to make the Competitioncut are Richard Kelly with Southland Tales and Richard Linklater with Fast Food Nation. Thelatter also has the honor of being the first director to have two films inofficial selection; Scanner Darkly will run in the Un Certain Regardsidebar. In another double, Rachid Bouchareb comes to Competition as a director with Days Of Glory, and a producer with Flandres.

The UK'sAndrea Arnold makes Competition with her highly-anticipated debut, Red Road, while Belgiandirector Lucas Belvaux also makes his first trip toCannes with La Raison Du Plus Faible(The Weakest Is Always Right), andPortugal's Pedro Costa, with JuventudeEm Marcha is also asurprise name.

Turkishdirector Nuri Bilge Ceylanreturns to official competition after 2002's Uzakwith Iklimler, China's Lou Ye is Asia's sole representative with SummerPalace and Italy's Paolo Sorrentinowith L'Amico Di Famiglia - previously tipped for Venice - rounds out the Competition.

Thefestival will open on May 17 with Ron Howard's The DaVinci Code and close with Transylvania, from 2004's best director winnerTony Gatlif, both out of Competition.

The Cannes poster this year features a scenefrom In The Mood For Love, directed by Jury presidentWong Kar-wai. His team includes actresses Monica Bellucci, Helena Bonham Carter and Zhang Ziyi; actors Samuel L Jackson and Tim Roth and directors Lucrecia Martel, Patrice Leconteand Elia Suleiman.

Splashingmore new names than its sister, The Un Certain Regardsidebar features 23 films dominated by Eastern European countries including Poland, Russia, Romania, Hungary and Lithuania.

The firstever Paraguayan film is also in the running from Paz Encinaentitled Hamaca Paraguaya.In all, eight first films are in the line up making them all eligible for the Camerad'Or whose jury is to be presided over by last year'sPalme d'Or winners Luc andJean-Pierre Dardenne.

Masterclasses will be given by actress Gena Rowlands, director Sydney Pollack and composer Alexandre Desplat in conjunctionwith director Jacques Audiard.

Thefestival runs from May 17-28.