Five films from Asia in contention for Cannes' biggest prize

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The Independent Culture

Asian cinema has a long history of success at the Cannes Film Festival and that's a trend which may well continue this year at the 63rd edition of the world's most prestigious film gathering.

The legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa ( Kagemusha) and China's Chen Kaige ( Farewell, My Concubine) are both former winners whose reputations were crowned by the attention they received at the French seaside town, and festival organizers have this year, as usual, selected an eclectic mix of five films from the region among the 18 vying for the Palme d'Or, Cannes' top prize. The festival is set to kick off on May 12 and run to May 23.

Among those in contention is a production from a Thai filmmaker virtually unknown outside the world's arthouse film circuit as well as films from three directors who have become festival favorites over the years.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul - a Cannes Jury Prize winner in 2004 with Tropical Malady - returns with a Spanish-German-French-British co-production Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

South Korea, meanwhile, will see Im Sang-soo present The Housemaid and Lee Chang-dong unveil Poetry. Both directors have long been favourites on the arthouse circuit, as has Japan's Takeshi Kaneshiro, who has Outrage in the running for the top award.

The Palme D'Or field is rounded out by Chongqing Blues, directed by China's Wang Xiaoshuai.

Heading the Palme D'or jury is American filmmaker Tim Burton.

Here's a look at what Asia's representatives films are all about:

The Housemaid: Im Sang-soo directs a remake of the 1960 Korean classic. Jeon Do-yeon - best actress winner in Cannes for Secret Sunshine (2007) - plays a maid who begins a torrid affair with the head of her household.

Poetry: An old woman turns to poetry for help as she battles with the onset of Alzheimer's disease in a film from one of South Korea's most skilled helmers, Lee Chang-dong

Chingqing Blues: Wang Xiaoshuai turns his cameras on to a story based on fact, which follows a sailor who is forced to reassess his own life after returning home to find his son has been killed by the police.

Outrage: A return after 10 years to the yakuza gangster genre for Takeshi Kitano in a film rumored to be high on his trademark violence. Kitano stars as a lowly thug who schemes for better days after years of cleaning up after his bosses.

U ncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives: Noted for his non-narrative styles, Apichatpong Weerasethakul winds this tale around an old man who is joined on his death bed by the ghost of his wife and together they explore the man's history.

Website: http://www.festival-cannes.com

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