PARIS (Reuters) - Hollywood star power will vie with world cinema and a large crop of French films, including New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard's latest, for the top prize next month at the 67th Cannes film festival, the world's most important cinema showcase.
Godard's "Adieu au Langage" will bring the accustomed Gallic flair to the swanky festival on the palm-lined French Riviera, whose top Palme d'Or prize can significantly boost a movie's revenue and awards potential.
Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep and Hilary Swank in the frontier drama "The Homesman" will add Hollywood pizzazz.
The 18 films announced on Thursday in the prestigious main lineup include entries from Canada, Russia, Turkey, Italy and Japan, highlighting the international breadth of what Artistic Director Thierry Fremaux called "cinema's great rendezvous".
"What is important to us is that the selection at Cannes is a voyage in the world of cinema and in the world overall," Fremaux told a news conference of film critics and journalists.
One of the world's oldest film festivals, Cannes is a glamorous affair marked by a much-watched red carpet, a phalanx of tuxedo-clad photographers, luxury yachts bobbing in the old port and a rotating cast of autograph-signing celebrities.
Featuring in the main lineup are two female directors - Italy's Alice Rohrwacher with "Le Meraviglie" and "Futatsume No Mado" (Two Windows)" from Japan's Naomi Kawase - with Oscar-winning New Zealand director Jane Campion leading its jury.
Campion is the first and only woman to have won the Palme d'Or, for "The Piano" in 1993, and the paucity of female directors has been criticized in recent years.
Representing French cinema are director Bertrand Bonello's bio-pic "Saint Laurent" about the great yet tormented fashion designer, Olivier Assayas' "Sils Maria" starring Juliette Binoche, and "The Search", a drama set in war-torn Chechnya by Michel Hazanavicius, who won an Oscar for "The Artist" in 2012.
The 39th feature film of the influential Godard - whose 1960 "Breathless" helped kickstart the French New Wave style - was shot in 3D. The lyrical film follows a married woman, a single man and a dog who brings them together.
Two-time winners of the Palme d'Or, the brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne of Belgium compete with "Deux Jours, Une Nuit" ("Two Days, One Night") starring Marion Cotillard, who won a best-actress Oscar in 2008 for "La Vie en Rose".
Canadian movies feature prominently with director David Cronenberg's "Maps to the Stars," a critique of Hollywood starring Robert Pattinson ("Twilight"), Atom Egoyan's "The Captive" and "Mommy" from Xavier Dolan.
Respected British auteurs Ken Loach and Mike Leigh also compete, respectively, with "Jimmy's Hall" about the Irish communist leader Jimmy Gralton deported from Ireland in the 1930s, and "Mr. Turner," about British painter J.M.W. Turner.
Also competing are "Leviafan" by Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev, "Winter Sleep" (Kis Uykusu) by Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Mauritania's Abderrahmane Sissako's "Timbuktu" and "Relatos Salvajes" from Argentina's Damian Szifron.
GRACE AND GOSLING
While the Cannes festival offers plenty to please global art-house fans, Hollywood pictures also feature prominently.
"The Homesman" stars the rugged Jones as a claim jumper and Swank as a pioneer woman who team up to escort three insane women across the U.S. Midwest plains. The film is the first directed by Jones since his 2005 western "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" which won two awards in Cannes.
The other U.S. main competition entry, director Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher", is based on the true story of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz and the killing of his brother by an heir to the DuPont chemical fortune.
Another Hollywood offering will be the out-of-competition world premiere of the animated "How to Train Your Dragon 2", the sequel of the adaptation of the successful book series about a boy growing up with a dragon as his life partner.
Opening the May 14-25 festival is an out-of-competition screening of "Grace of Monaco", a bio-pic starring Nicole Kidman directed by French director Olivier Dahan.
The parallel "Un Certain Regard" festival, which focuses on emerging directors, kicks off with "Party Girl" by French director Marie Amachoukeli. It includes the directorial debut of Hollywood actor Ryan Gosling with "Lost River" and a documentary by Wim Wenders of the photographer Sebastiao Salgado.
A total of 49 long-form films were chosen to be shown at Cannes out of 1,800 submitted, with 28 countries represented.
This year's official poster, paying homage to past film greats, is a sepia-toned portrait of the Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni, who starred in Federico Fellini's classic "8½" and "La Dolce Vita" a half century ago.
(Additional reporting by Michael Roddy; Editing by Mark Heinrich)