Cronenberg, Loach headline race for Cannes gold

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David Cronenberg's 'Cosmopolis' is set to compete at next month's Cannes film festival.
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David Cronenberg's 'Cosmopolis' is set to compete at next month's Cannes film festival.

David Cronenberg, Ken Loach and Michael Haneke are among the top filmmakers set to compete at next month's Cannes film festival, organisers said Thursday, in a line-up studded with stars from Nicole Kidman to Brad Pitt.

Canada's Cronenberg was tipped for "Cosmopolis", starring Robert Pattinson as a billionaire asset manager, while Britain's Loach will return to Cannes for the 17th time with "The Angel's Share", a bittersweet comedy about former offenders who try their hand at whisky-making.

Austrian director Michael Haneke -- whose "The White Ribbon" won the 2009 Palme d'Or -- will show his new film "Amour" (Love), starring Isabelle Huppert as a woman hit by a stroke.

Organisers named a total of 54 films awarded a slot at the May 16-27 event at a press conference in Paris, 22 of them in the official race for the Palme d'Or and half in the parallel new talent section, Un Certain Regard.

Cannes' general delegate Thierry Fremaux selected the line-up from among 1,779 submissions -- often favouring smaller directors over big-name Hollywood rivals, but with a string of A-listers in starring roles.

"Its a journey through cinema and a journey around the world," Cannes general delegate Thierry Fremaux told journalists of the line-up.

This year's jury is headed up by Italian director Nanni Moretti, who scooped a Palme d'Or for "La stanza del figlio" ("The Son's Room") in 2001 and who told AFP he would be "looking for films that are still able to surprise me."

Pattinson will be reunited in the Riviera city with his on-screen lover from the "Twilight" films, Kristen Stewart, who stars in "On the Road", the Brazilian Walter Salles' adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel.

A-list Australian actress Nicole Kidman stars in the 1960s-set "The Paperboy" by US director Lee Daniels, while Pitt teams up with Australian director Andre Dominik in the gangster flick "Killing Them Softly".

Kidman also makes an appearance out-of-competition in US director Philip Kaufman's "Hemingway and Gellhorn", starring opposite Clive Owen as the writer's third wife.

Jessica Chastain, co-star of last year's Palme d'Or winner "Tree of Life", returns in "Lawless," a film about bootlegging by John Hilloat, who is also from Australia.

Marion Cotillard will add to the red-carpet glamour in "Of Rust and Bone" by Jacques Audiard, one of three French directors in the line-up with New Wave veteran Alain Resnais, who is 89, and the edgy director Leos Carax.

Wes Anderson's 1960s teen love story "Moonrise Kingdom", which had been announced as the opening film, will also run in the official selection.

The 71-year-old Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who won the Palme for "Taste of Cherry" in 1997, returns with "Like Someone in Love", a Japan-set story about a student who works as a prostitute

And the Italian director behind the mafia saga "Gomorrah", Matteo Garrone, will take on the world of reality TV with "Reality".

Berenice Bejo, co-star of the hit French silent movie "The Artist", is to host the festival's opening and closing ceremonies.

Claude Miller's "Therese Desqueyroux" will close the festival, in a tribute to the French filmmaker who had barely finished editing the movie when he died this month aged 70.

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