Which film will open the 58thedition of the Cannes festival on May 11'
Could the festival take acommercial turn and opt for Star Wars Episode III: The Return Of The Sith- out of competition - or Woody Allen's UK-set Matchpoint with ScarlettJohansson'
While the word is that StarWars is going - George Lucas took Episode II to the Croisette - andWoody Allen is talking, the festival's announcement of its official line-up, totake place around April 20, is as eagerly-anticipated as the title of the openingfilm. (See list, below, of Screen's tips for Cannes)
Kicking off on May 11 with ajury headed by outspoken auteur Emir Kusturica, the films hotly tipped for theCroisette this year so far are not indicative of any dominant theme.
Many high-profile Asianhopefuls may not be ready on time, particularly Tsui Hark's Seven Swordsand Park Chan-wook's Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. But some strongco-productions from Australia-New Zealand may mark the return of Australasianfilm-makers to the Croisette. French star-power, in terms of finished product,is particularly strong this year both in front and behind of the lens.
Of those rumoured to be asure thing, either in competition or out, David Cronenberg's A History ofViolence, Terry Gilliam's Tideland, Robert Rodriguez's Sin City,Gus Van Sant's Last Days, the untitled Jim Jarmusch film, AtomEgoyan's Where The Truth Lies (which may not be ready),. Martha Fiennes'Chromophobia, and Wim Wenders' Don't Come Knockin' lead theEnglish-language field. This would result in star power ranging from BillMurray, Sharon Stone, Tilda Swinton and Jessica Lange, Mickey Rourke, BruceWillis, Rosario Dawson and Benicio Del Toro at Cannes.
However, Some US producersand distributors have expressed reservations about pursuing competition slotsthis year under Jury president and two-time Palme d'Or winner Kusturica who hasbeen outspoken on the subject of Hollywood cinema in the past.
From France, PatriceChereau's Gabrielle, Michael Haneke's Hidden, Danis Tanovic's Helland the Dardenne Brothers' The Child would bring Isabelle Huppert,Daniel Auteil and Juliette Binoche to the festival.
And what's a good Canneswithout Lars Von Trier stirring up some controversy' His Manderlay lookslike a sure bet with Bryce Dallas Howard taking over the role of Grace fromNicole Kidman.
Screen International's list of potential Cannes contenders:
Officialselection - out of competition
Matchpoint - Dir: Woody Allen. Int'l sales: HanWay Films. WoodyAllen's first UK-set film is in post-production and could have a date with thePalais, probably out-of-competiton.
Kirikou Et Les BetesSauvages - Dir: Michel Ocelot. Intl sales: CelluloidDreams. After the phenomenal successof Kirikou Et La Sorciere, Michel Ocelot is back with the same characterin a series of new adventures.
Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge Of The Sith (US)- DirGeorge Lucas.Cannes's likely big platform openerand headline-drawer (Darth Vader on the red carpet, anyone'), Fox Internationalis rolling this out day-and-date on May 19 following its tipped world premiereat the Palais as opening film.
Sin City. Dir Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. Intl Sales:Miramax International. A splashy premiere out of competition for this filmfeaturing Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Benecio DelToro, Josh Hartnett, Rosario Dawson and Brittany Murphy would be a big Cannesfixture.
Kiss KissBang Bang. Director Shane Black. Worldwide dist: Warner Bros.Based in part on Brett Halliday's novel, Bodies Are Where YouFind Them; Robert Downey Jrand Val Kilmer star.
Tideland. Dir Terry Gilliam. Int'l Sales: HanWay Films.Gilliam describes it as "Alice In Wonderland meets Psycho". When his wife diesof an overdose, a man (Jeff Bridges), a rambling musician, takes off for Texaswith his daughter to escape life.
A History Of Violence Dir:David Cronenberg. Intl sales: New Line International. Early word from test screenings is that this is themost commercial project Cronenberg has worked on since The Dead Zone or TheFly.
Competition/Un Certain Regard/Director'sFortnight/Critics Week
Look Both Ways Dir: Sarah Watt. Int'l sales: Fortissimo Film Sales.The first feature by director/writer Sarah Watt includes several animatedsequences depicting black daydreams.
The Proposition Dir: John Hillcoat. Int'l sales: The Works. Raw,powerful early footage showcases a strong cast led by Guy Pearce, John Hurt,Ray Winstone, Emily Watson and David Wenham.
Little Fish Dir: Rowan Woods. Int'l sales: Myriad Pictures. Cate Blanchett stars alongside Hugo Weaving andVietnamese-American actor Dustin Nguyen in a dramatic tale set in Sydney'stough Little Saigon area.
Also in the running from New Zealand: TheWorld's Fastest Indian with Anthony Hopkins as a motorcycle legend ofthe 1960s, based on a true story.
The King Dir: James Marsh. Int'l Sales: Content. Scripted andproduced by Milo Addica (Monster's Ball, Birth), this is about a21-year-old called Elvis (Gael Garcia Bernal) fresh out of the navy who has atumultuous reunion with his bible-bashing father (William Hurt) in Texas.
Shooting Dogs Dir:Michael Caton-Jones. Int'l sales: Renaissance Films John Hurt and Hugh Dancystar in Caton-Jones' $6m Rwandan-set drama.
Chromophobia Dir: Martha Fiennes. Int'l sales: QuintaCommunications Martha Fiennes' second feature is a $10m, London-set drama thatboasts Fiennes' brother Ralph Fiennes, Penelope Cruz and Kristin Scott-Thomas.
The Piano Tuner OfEarthquakes Dirs: Stephen &Timothy Quay. Intl sales: Celluloid DreamsThe long-awaited second feature from cult animators the Brothers Quay isbeing shown to the Cannes selectors and to Marco Muller at Venice and is likelyto surface at one of the festivals.
Breakfast on Pluto: Dir NeilJordan. Int'l Sales: Pathe. UK-Irish co-production about an Irishtransvestite on the make in 1970s London stars; Cillian Murphy, Stephen Rea andBrendan Gleeson.
Also in the running: StephenWoolley's The Wild and Wycked World of Brian Jones. MichaelWinterbottom's comedy Tristram Shandy, Andrew Niccol's LordOf War.
Gabrielle Dir: Patrice Chereau. Int'l sales: Studio Canal. Starring PascalGreggory and Isabelle Huppert, this is an adaptation of the Joseph Conrad shortstory The Return.
How Much Do You Love Me' Dir:Bertrand Blier. Intl sales: Wild Bunch. Gerard Depardieu plays a pimp and Monica Bellucci aprostitute.
The Child. Dirs: Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Intl sales:Celluloid Dreams The Dardenne brothersreturn with Belgian-French co-production The Child starring JeremieRenier.
Russian Dolls/LesPoupees Rousses Dir: CedricKlapisch. Int'l sales: StudioCanal. The sequel to summer 2002 hit Pot Luck,Russian Dolls picks up five years later and stars Romain Duris, Cecile deFrance, Audrey Tautou, Kelly Reilly and Kevin Bishop.
Time To Leave/Le TempsQui Reste. Dir: Francois Ozon.Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams. Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Jeanne Moreau and MelvilPoupaud star in the story of a 30-year-old man who finds out he has only monthsleft to live.
The Perfume Of TheLady In Black. Dir: BrunoPodalydes. Intl sales: Celluloid Dreams. A mystery-comedy based on thebook by Gaston Leroux.
Benares Dir: Barlen Pyamootoo. Int'l sales: PyramideInternational. From a small village on the Ile Maurice, two boys head to the capitaltown to find two prostitutes to bring home.
Hidden (France-Austria). Dir: Michael Haneke. Int'l sales:Le Films du Losange. Georges (Daniel Auteuil) starts receiving mysteriouspackages containing video footage shot of his family in the street and thesuspense mounts. Juliette Binoche co-stars.
Hell (L'Enfer). Dir:Danis Tanovic. Int'l sales: Focus Features.Tanovic(No Man's Land) brings Emmanuelle Beart, Karin Viard, Jean Rochefort andCarole Bouquet together for this all-star film based on a story by the lateKrzysztof Kieslowski.
Merry Christmas. Dir: Christophe Carion. Int'l sales: FilmsDistribution. A Euros 20m production is based on the true story of aChristmas Eve truce during the Great War.
Peek A Boo /CacheCache. Dir: Yves Comont. Int'lsales: Films Distribution. The story of Raymond, an evicted farmer who watchesfrom the bottom of a well as newcomers move into his home.
Lemming. Dir: Dominick Moll. Intl sales: Celluloid Dreams. Thelong-awaited follow-up to Moll's indie hit With A Friend Like Harry re-reteamingthe director with Harry star Laurent Lucas alongside Charlotte Rampling,Andre Dussollier and Charlotte Gainsbourg in this psychological thriller.
Sex And Philosophy. Dir: Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Intl sales: Wild Bunch. A French-Iranianco-production. The story is set in Tajikistan where a man with four loverstries to choose the one that will best suit him as a wife.
20 Centimeters. Dir: Ramon Salazar. Int'l Sales: TBA. Salazar's ollow-up to 2002's Stones (Piedras) - which was likened by critics to early Almodovar - stars Monica Cervera, Najwa Nimri and Rossy de Palma in a musical comedy about a super-endowed transsexual.
A Midsummer Dream.Dirs: Angel de La Cruz and Manolo Gomez.Int'l sales: Lumina Films. Over 60 international territorieshave been pre-sold for this Spanish animation loosely based on Shakespeare'scomedy.
Habana Blues. Dir:Benito Zambrano. Int'l sales: Flache Pyramide. A Cuba-set musical starringlocal musicians in a story about how their lives are affected after recordingan album in Europe.
Also in the running: AlbertoRodriguez's 7 Virgens.
The Aura (Argentina). Dir: Fabien Bielinsky. Int'l sales:Celluloid Dreams. Bielinsky's long-awaited follow-up to crossover hit NineQueens reunites the director with star Ricardo Darin in this psychologicalthriller.
Lower City (Cidade Baixa) (Brazil). Dir: Sergio Machada. Int'lsales: Lumina Films. Produced by Walter Salles, this a musically-based tale ofa group of friends who fall in love with the same woman.
Battles In The Sky (Batallas En El Cielo) (Mexico). Dir:Carlos Reygada. Int'l sales: Philippe Bober's Co-Production Office. Battlesis Reygadas' follow-up to Japon and has been strongly tipped for official selection.
Sangre (Blood) (Mexico). Dir: Amat Escalante. Int'l sales: Imcine and MantarayaProducciones. From newcomer Amat Escalante; Carlos Reygadasalso holds a producer's credit.
Rosario Tijeras (Colombia).Dir: Emilio Maille. Int'l sales: Bristol Media. This is a hot title: shot inMedellin, Colombia, it centres around a woman out for revenge on the gangs whohave destroyed her life.
Also in the running: Mezcal,directed by Nacho Ortiz (Bedtime Fairy Tales For Crocodiles) is facingtough Mexican competition but will likely end up at an A-list festival.(Imcine). Las Vueltas Del Citrillo (The Song Of TheCitrillo Bird), an Imcine production (Mexico)production by veteran Felipe Cazals. La Guerilla Y La Esperanza (GuerillaAnd Hope), a full length socio-political documentary by youngfilm maker Gerardo Tort.
The Bow (South Korea) Dir: Kim Ki-duk. Intl sales: CineClick Asia.Early viewers of Kim Ki-duk's 12th feature, shot in mid-winter on a tinycoastal island, describe it as visually striking and reminiscent of hisbreakout The Isle (2000).
The Aggressives (South Korea). Dir: Jeong Jae-eun. Int'l sales: Show East. Female director JeongJae-eun's second film after the festival hit Take Care Of My Cat (2001)focuses on a group of teens who are into extreme rollerblading.
Nomad (France-Kazakhstan). Dir: Sergei Bodrov. Int'lsales: Wild Bunch . Set in 18th century Kazakhstan, Nomadis about a hero who will unite the Kazakhs and lead them to great victoryagainst their enemies.
Everlasting Regret/ Chang Hen Ge (Hong Kong). Dir: Stanley Kwan. Intl sales: Golden Scene. This Shanghai-set period drama has a cast headed upby Hong Kong box office queen Sammi Cheng and also includes Tony Leung Ka-faiand rising star Daniel Wu.
Citizen Dog (Thailand). Dir: WisitSasanatieng. Int'l sales: Europa Corp. Fromthe director of Tears Of The Black Tiger comes this surreal and comiclove story set in Bangkok.
Little Red Flowers (working title) (China). Dir: Zhang Yuan . Int'l sales: TBA. Adapted fromBeijing-based writer Wang Shuo's semi-autobiographical It Looks Beautiful, thefilm is co-produced by Zhang and Marco Mueller.
Un Conte De Cinema (SouthKorea). Dir: Hong Sang -Soo. Int'lsales: MK2. Saidto be more structured than his Woman Is The Future Of Man, HongSang-soo's Un Conte De Cinema stands a better chance of appealing to thegeneral arthouse crowd. This may end up at Venice.
Riding Alone ForThousands Of Miles(China-Japan). Dir: Zhang Yimou. Intl sales inquiries: Edko Films.Following Hero and House Of Flying Daggers, Zhang Yimou hasreturned to a more personal drama with this story of a Japanese man who travelsto China to learn about opera. Sony Pictures Classics has US rights.
Election (China-HK). Dir: Johnny To. Int'l sales: CelluloidDreams. To aims to take the gangster genre in a new direction with thisunflinching portrait of Hong Kong's triad societies. Cast includes Simon Yam,Louis Koo and Tony Leung Ka-fai.
The Best Of Our Times (working title) (Taiwan). Dir: Hou Hsiao Hsien.Int'l sales: TBA. Chang Chen and Shu Qi play lovers in three different eras.The film was still shooting at the end of March but the producers haven't ruledout Cannes.
OnceYou're Born You Can No Longer Hide/Quando Sei Nato Non Puoi Piu Nasconderti. Dir: Marco Tullio Giordana. Int'l sales: TFI International.Now ranking as one of Italy's top directors, Giordana's latest features AlessioBoni in a tale loosely inspired by Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous.
L'Orizzonte degliEventi. Dir:Daniele Vicari. Int'l sales: Medusa Film.This is inspired by Uomini e Lupi (Men and Wolves), DanieleVicari's own documentary about a group of Macedonian shepherds living incentral Italy under extreme conditions.
Quo Vadis Baby' Dir: Gabriele Salvatores.Int'l sales: Medusa Film. The latest from Oscar winner Salvatores (Mediterraneo)is a psychological film noir about a woman detective who investigates hersister's suicide.
Sacred Heart. Dir: Ferzan Ozpetek. Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams.About a successful ruthless businesswoman who comes face-to-face with povertyon the streets of Naples.
River Moon (Water). Dir:Deepa Mehta. Int'l sales: TBC. The third film in Mehta's "elemental trilogy", this dealswith the life of Indian widows.
Manderlay. Dir: LarsVon Trier. Int'l sales: Trust Film Sales. As close a Cannes competitioncert as you'll get. The second part of his "Grace" trilogy sees rising starBryce Dallas Howard replace Nicole Kidman.
Allegro. Dir:Christoffer Boe. Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams. Camera d'Or winner Boe (Reconstruction) has shot adramatic romance with a sci-fi twist.
Last Days Dir: Gus Van Sant. Int'l Sales: HBO Films London
Untitled Jim JarmuschProject Dir: Jim Jarmusch. Int'l Sales: Focus Features. Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, Tilda Swinton and JessicaLange star inthis strong as-yet-untitled Cannes possibility.
Where The Truth Lies Dir: Atom Egoyan. Int'l sales: SummitEntertainment. Egoyan's latest may not be ready on time for Cannes, but would beon any festival's wish list. Alison Lohman, Kevin Bacon and Colin Firthheadline in this film noir.
Don't Come Knockin'
Romance And Cigarettes
Junebug Dir: PhilMorrison. Int'l Sales: Renaissance. This American family drama played atSundance earlier this year.
The Baxter Dir: Michael Showalter. Int'l Sales: RenaissanceFilms. This $2m romantic comedy about a man's final two weeksbefore his wedding features an ensemble cast including some of the stars fromThe Station Agent.
The Notorious Bettie Paige Dir: Mary Harron. Int'l Sales: HBO Films London. Gretchen Mol plays the eponymous BettiePage, the racy 1950's pin-up model who became the target of a Senateinvestigation.
The Big White Dir: MarkMylod. Int'l Sales: Capitol Films. A great cast of Robin Williams, HollyHunter, Giovanni Ribisi, Alison Lohman, Tim Blake Nelson and Woody Harrelsonstar in this comedy of money, murder and mayhem.
This list wascompiled by Fionnuala Halligan, Jeremy Kay, Mike Goodridge, Nancy Tartaglione,Geoffrey MacNab, Liz Shackleton, Jennifer Green, Jeremy Kay, Darcy Paquet,Melanie Rodier, Jacob Wendt Jenson and Alexis Grivas.