Cannes star prize 'up for grabs'

The ultimate prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival is "up for grabs", according to Robert De Niro.

The actor, who heads the jury that will award the coveted Palme d'Or, said he was looking forward to watching the 20 contenders.

He said: "I'm not sure what I'm looking for. We'll sit there and see the movies and figure it out."

Asked how he would compare the films, which include entries from America, Finland and Japan, De Niro said the jury would look at "how important we feel they are in comparison to the other movies ... so it's up for grabs at the moment".

He is joined on the jury by directors and actors including Uma Thurman and Jude Law.

Law said it was "a great honour" to be asked to take part.

He said: "Of course it's a responsibility but I'm in very good company to cope with that responsibility."

Only one British film, We Need To Talk About Kevin, is in the running for the prize.

It stars Oscar winner Tilda Swinton and is based on the 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver about a high school massacre.

Its Glasgow-born director Lynne Ramsay has enjoyed success at Cannes before with some of her earlier films including Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar.

The festival opens tonight with a screening of Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris.

Some of the film's stars including Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Adrien Brody and Michael Sheen are expected to walk down the red carpet at the opening ceremony.

Sheen, who played football manager Brian Clough in The Damned United, is cast as a pompous intellectual in the film, a romantic comedy set in the French capital.

In one scene he patronises a museum tour guide played by France's first lady Carla Bruni.

Bruni is not attending the festival - a decision that has sparked speculation that she is pregnant.

But plenty of big Hollywood names are expected, with Pirates Of The Caribbean stars Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz set to appear alongside stars including Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman and Jodie Foster.

The festival runs until May 22.