Last month, festival programmer Thierry Fremaux promised thatCannes 2004 would be a festival of Confirmations and Discoveries. TheFestival's reputation depended on it after widespread criticisms of the eventin 2003. It has been touch and go at times but the competition titles have justabout delivered on his promise.

Walter Salles' stirringly compassionate road movie The Motorcycle Diaries, Agnes Jaoui'swarm and witty ensemble Look At Me,Park Chan-wook's gut wrenching revenge drama Old Boy and Kore-eda Hirokazu's plaintive neo-realist ode Nobody Knows confirmed all of them astalents worthy of inclusion in Cannes' first division.

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit911 lived up to a feverish level of advance expectation with a passionateassault on the crimes and misdemeanours of the Bush administration whilst Shrek 2 proved vastly entertaining evenif some critics felt that the Competition was somehow diminished by a film thata mass audience might actually enjoy.

There have been many disappointments (The Ladykillers high among them) and grumblings of widespreadmediocrity (Woman Is The Future Of Man,The Edukators etc) but nothing that can quite compare to last year'snightmare double bill of The Brown Bunnyand Les Cotelletes.

Fremaux shouldn't be fielding nearly as much flak in this year'spost-mortem calls, but may not be out of the woods yet. Confirmations havecertainly been made but those looking for a sense of discovery in thecompetition titles have faced an uphill struggle with only the ice cool eleganceof Paolo Sorrentino's The Consequences OfLove really catching people by surprise; that and the logic behind themysterious promotion of the long-winded Mondovinointo competition.

Discovery has been present elsewhere in the Festival in Un CertainRegard selections like Sebastian Cordero's powerful crime tale Cronicas, Nimrod Antals' Kontroll and Cate Shortland's assured Somersault, Critics Week titles likeFernando Eimbecke's wry rites of passage tale Temporado De Patos and Eleonore Faucher's promising debut A Common Thread (Brodeuses) as well asDirector's Fortnight's Sundance favourites like Tarnation, The Woodsman and MeanCreek.

It has been a Festival in which politics have remained at theheart of the event and that doesn't just mean the backstage wranglings.Protests on the streets and a new Jean-Luc Godard on the screen must have madeit seem like old times for Cannes veterans of the 1960s. Michael Moore'spresence may have been a lightning rod for anti-Bush feeling but the war inIraq and a global climate of fear and loathing have been a constant theme thisyear.

There is a sense of documentaries and drama running to catch upwith events, straining to try and make sense of the fragile world in which wecurrently live. Those looking for hope or reassurance needed to look no furtherthan The Motorcycle Diaries in whichsocial injustice doesn't drive a young man to despair but makes Che Guevarawant to try and change the world. In a Festival defined by dark times what moreinspiring message could you want from a potential Palme D'Or winner'