Forget the Hollywood glam, this year's Cannes flavour is European

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The Independent Culture

The British director Roland Joffe will open this year's Cannes Film Festival with his film Vatel, which stars Gerard Depardieu, Tim Roth and Uma Thurman.

The £20m-plus costume drama tells the true story of France's first celebrity chef. The Young French actress Virginie Ledoyen, who starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach, will be master of ceremonies for the night.

The festival, which starts on 10 May, is the premier international movie showcase of the year, and appears to have taken on board criticisms saying they ignore European films for Hollywood glamour.

This year, there are few Hollywood movies in competition, with European and Asian films dominating. Among the few American offerings are the Coen brothers' Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? which stars George Clooney and Holly Hunter, and, out of competition, Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her, starring Cameron Diaz and Calista Flockhart.

Ken Loach adds to the British presence with Bread And Roses, starring Chris Penn and Tim Roth, with the latter climbing the red-carpeted staircase on the Croisette for a second time after his opening- night appearance.

Denmark's controversial director Lars von Trier, who made Breaking The Waves and also introduced a film with real sex between actors to Cannes, returns with Dancer in the Dark, a love story starring Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Marc Barr and the pop star Bjork. James Ivory's version of Henry James's The Golden Bowl is selected for the official competition. Two much-anticipated films, in Cannes though not in the official competition, will be Hugh Hudson's latest, I Dreamed Of Africa, and the science fiction epic from Brian de Palma, Mission To Mars. There will also be the former Eurythmics man Dave Stewart's first film Honest, which stars the pop group All Saints.

This year's festival will feature the youngest director in Cannes' history. Twenty-year-old Samira Makhmalbaf from Iran will be competing with her film The Black Picture.

Luc Besson, director of the 1997 film The Fifth Element and the recently released Joan of Arc, will chair the Cannes jury.

Peter O'Toole is to star in a film financed by the national lottery. The Final Curtain, which starts shooting in London next month, will be directed by Pat-rick Harkins, making his debut.