In a Cannes lineup packed with veteran auteurs _ Michael Haneke, Abbas Kiarostami, Alain Resnais _ and relative newcomers like Lee Daniels and Andrew Dominik, here are six films to watch out for among the 22 contenders for the coveted Palme d'Or:
THE ANGELS' SHARE
Britain's master of gritty realism, Ken Loach, won the Palme in 2006 with Irish war drama "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." He found a lighter vein with "Looking for Eric" in 2009, and looks set to continue the high spirits with this tale of unemployed Glaswegians who seek salvation through distilling single malt whisky.
KILLING THEM SOFTLY
A meaty-sounding crime thriller from New Zealand-born director Andrew Dominik stars Brad Pitt as a mob enforcer trying to recover a stolen poker stash. Dominik made the Australian shocker "Chopper" and directed Pitt in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."
ON THE ROAD
One of the longest-awaited and most anticipated films in competition sees Brazilian director Walter Salles ("The Motorcycle Diaries") tackle Jack Kerouac's impressionistic Beat Generation travelogue. The central triangle of tangled free spirits features young actors Sam Riley ("Control") and Garett Hedlund ("Tron: Legacy") alongside "Twilight" star Kristen Stewart.
The auteur of creeping horror, David Cronenberg, adapts Don DeLillo's novel about a Wall Street billionaire seeking a haircut and trying to fend off ruin on an epic journey across Manhattan. The somewhat surprising star is Robert Pattinson, vampire heartthrob of the "Twilight" films.
RUST AND BONE
French director Jacques Audiard stormed Cannes three years ago with his powerful prison drama "A Prophet." His follow-up is set on the sunny French Riviera but promises pathos in the tale of a poor single father and a killer whale trainer who suffers a devastating workplace accident.
AFTER THE BATTLE
Probably the most topical film in competition, Yousry Nasrallah's drama is set against the backdrop of last year's Egyptian revolution and looks at the relationship between a poverty-stricken former Mubarak regime enforcer and a wealthy revolutionary divorcee.