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The Cannes Film Festival is set to feature one of the richest North American slates in years, as Lee Daniels, David Cronenberg, Jeff Nichols and Wes Anderson will all screen films in competition at the world's most prestigious film gathering, while an adaptation of a classic American novel will also get the Croisette treatment.
And, oh yes, there's also the premiere of new movies from Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf -- and films featuring "Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.
The announcement of the Cannes lineup, made by festival general delegate and artistic director Thierry Fremaux at a Paris news conference Thursday, marks the first time since 2008 that four North American filmmakers are to play in the festival's vaunted competition section. It comes at a time when an enervated independent film business has regained some strength in the United States.
The 2012 Cannes competition lineup features new movies from Cronenberg (the drama "Cosmopolis," which stars Pattinson), Nichols (the Southern fugitive story "Mud"), Daniels (journalist thriller "The Paperboy") and Anderson (whose previously announced festival opener, the offbeat romance "Moonrise Kingdom," was revealed Thursday to be in competition).
The section also includes "On the Road," Walter Salles' big-screen take on the Jack Kerouac Beat novel, which stars Stewart.
The festival is scheduled to open May 16 in the south of France and run through May 27. (For the complete list, please visit the official site.)
Equally notable on the global front is the presence of two filmmakers from the Middle East in the competition section-- Iranian Abbas Kiarostami ("Like Someone in Love") and Egyptian Yousry Nasrallah ("Baad El Mawekaa"). The selection of films from the embattled countries seems designed at least in part to send a message of free expression.
This might be particularly true in the case of Iran. As the country continues to dominate the news cycle, its relationship with cinema has been a complicated one. One of the nation's most prominent filmmakers, Jafar Panahi, remains under a 20-year filmmaking ban by the government because of alleged dissident activities.
But another director, Asghar Farhadi, brought home the country's first foreign-language Oscar when his family drama "A Separation" won a statuette earlier this year.
In a strange turn, although one of 2012's biggest commercial releases, "Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2" won't appear on a Cannes screen, the film's two leads are set to be there, as they seek to take the next step in their post-vampire careers.