Cannes' competition holds few surprises in that the line-up has been widely predicted. But it contains a number of innovations and presents a genuinely diverse panoply of film-making around the world.

In the spirit of small is beautiful, the number of films in main competition has been cut from 23 last year to just 18 this time. And the number of local French-language pictures has been cut from the usual four to three this time. But the programme is boosted by an expanded out-of-competition list and a new sidebar of "Cannes Classics".

Innovations include pitching Shrek 2, a studio-backed digital animation that is also a sequel, up against more experimental European independents such as German film Die Fetten Jahre Sind Sorbei, by White Noise-director Hans Weingartner. With Mamuro Oshii's Innocence, the number of animation films in competition is an unprecedented two.

South Korea's growing force in international cinema is reflected by the first time inclusion of two Korean films in competition. Asian film-making is well represented with another Japanese title Nobody Knows by Hirozu Kora-Eda, Wong Kar Wai's 2046 and Tropical Malady by Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

While established masters Walter Salles, Wong and Emir Kusturica are as expected all present, arguably the biggest surprise of the competition line-up is the absence of Vera Drake by Mike Leigh. Many buyers had considered it a near certainty to be flying the UK flag. Instead that honour goes to biopic, The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers. (Zhang Yimou's Flying Daggers, which had been widely tipped for competition, finds itself in the expanded out-of-competition list.)

The inclusion of Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 will be a surprise to some. The controversial film-maker had signaled that he might hold it back for release closer to the US presidential election.