Four former Palme d’Or winners on Cannes short-list

Four previous Palme d’Or winners are in line for the top prize at Cannes again this year — along with other film-makers making their return to the French Riviera.

Three years after British director Ken Loach was honoured for The Wind that Shakes the Barley, he’s back with Looking for Eric — about a Manchester United fan who imagines that the team’s former French star Eric Cantona is guiding him through life’s difficulties.

Quentin Tarantino — who last picked up the honour for Pulp Fiction — is back in contention with Inglourious Basterds — a war film, in which a group of Jewish soldiers confront the Nazis.

Back in 1993, The Piano scooped the top award for the Kiwi director Jane Campion, who’s back with her new film Bright Star — about the nineteenth century love affair between the English poet John Keats and his muse Fanny Brown.

And Lars von Trier — who picked up the Palme d’Or for Dancer in the Dark, nine years ago — has his latest film, Antichrist, in the competition. His film, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, depicts a universe that was created not by God, but by Satan.

Festival favourites Pedro Almodovar and Michael Haneke are also in competition with their films — Broken Embraces and The White Ribbon, respectively.

South Korea’s Park Chan-wook is back with Thirst — about a priest who becomes a vampire — and Hong Kong’s Johnnie To returns to Cannes with Vengeance — a thriller in which French singer Johnny Hallyday is a father, out to avenge the death of his daughter.

Ang Lee will be another familiar face, back on the Croisette, with his film Taking Woodstock, set against the backdrop of the eponymous music festival, in the late 1960s.

And short-film Oscar-winning director Andrea Arnold keeps up her 100 record with her second feature, Fish Tank, following Red Road to Cannes.

The Festival’s president Gilles Jacob says this year’s event would focus on independent films, to dispel the myth that auteur cinema is dead.

There’ll be twenty films in competition for the Palme d’Or, with another nineteen screening in the side-bar event, called “Un Certain Regard,” which promotes more art-house films.

As well as the competition and Un Certain Regard strand, the festival also screens a number of films out of competition – among them, Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – the final performance of Heath Ledger, whose role was shared between Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp and Jude Law after he died.