Superstars around the globe ready for Cannes

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Superstars around the globe ready for Cannes

PARIS - Druggy road trips, soul-searching drama and stylish gangland flicks go head to head on the French Riviera next week as a galaxy of stars and directors converge for the Cannes Film Festival.

David Cronenberg, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke headline the pick of 22 international filmmakers vying for the Palme d’Or award at the 65th edition of the world’s top cinema showcase from May 16 to 27. Star-wise, the 2012 lineup promises to dazzle with Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Kylie Minogue, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Brad Pitt - just a few of the A-listers expected in town.

Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, who herself never walked the Cannes red carpet, was chosen as the face of this year’s film fest in a tribute 50 years after her death. Palme d’Or-winner Nanni Moretti of Italy heads the jury, with help from eight jurors including the actor Ewan McGregor and fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier.

Festival general delegate Thierry Fremaux, who cherry-picked the selection from among almost 1,800 entries, was particularly excited about this year’s American crop.

“These past few years American cinema has been split between two extremes, with big studio blockbusters on one side and small independent movies on the other,” he told AFP.

“There used to be a culture of mainstream auteur cinema, of grown-up auteur cinema. That’s the cinema we should be seeing again this year.”

U.S. director Wes Anderson strikes a joyous keynote with Wednesday’s opening film “Moonrise Kingdom,” a preteen elopement story whose star-packed cast includes Bruce Willis as a small-town cop. Two U.S. auteurs are running for Cannes gold. Lee Daniels’ keenly awaited “The Paperboy” stars Kidman opposite John Cusack and Zac Efron in the tale of a reporter investigating a death row case. The second is Jeff Nichols, whose “Mud,” about two teenage boys who form a pact with a fugitive, was a surprise entry. American stories loom large throughout the lineup, though often told by foreign directors.

Canada’s Cronenberg brings Manhattan thriller “Cosmopolis,” adapted from Don DeLillo’s novel. It stars Robert Pattinson as a billionaire asset manager journeying through the city in a stretch limo. Brazil’s Walter Salles has adapted Jack Kerouac’s cult novel “On the Road,” while Australians John Hillcoat and Andrew Dominik bring two U.S.-set works: bootlegging drama “Lawless” and the mobster flick “Killing Them Softly.”

Among the European giants, Austria’s Haneke will show “Amour” (“Love”), starring Isabelle Huppert as the daughter of a woman hit by a stroke. In the absence of Lars Von Trier - banned from last year’s festival after incendiary remarks about Hitler - fellow Dane Thomas Vinterberg injects a dose of icy Nordic drama with “The Hunt.”

Britain’s Loach returns for the 17th time with comedy “The Angel’s Share,” about ex-convicts who turn to whisky-making.

One of three French filmmakers in the race, Jacques Audiard has cast Cotillard as a killer-whale trainer hit by a tragedy in “Rust and Bone.” Romania’s Cristian Mungiu, who scooped the 2007 Palme for a Communist-era abortion drama, returns with “Beyond the Hills” about two orphans, while Italian Matteo Garrone takes on TV culture with “Reality.”

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