Eastwood, Van Sant Compete at Cannes Film Fest

Two prominent American directors, Clint Eastwood and Gus Van Sant, will compete for the top prize at this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival, it was announced Wednesday.

Eastwood‘s suspense thriller Mystic River, which stars Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins, is one of the top contenders for the coveted Palme d’Or, given to the best feature film winner. The film, scheduled for release stateside Oct. 3, 2003, revolves around three childhood friends who are reunited 25 years later when they become linked to a murder investigation.

Good Will Hunting director Van Sant will present Elephant, a film focusing on high school violence.

Also in competition is British director Peter Greenaway‘s period drama, The Tulse Luper Suitcase, starring J.J. Field and Kathy Bates. The epic tale follows 92 characters, 92 events, and 92 suitcases from the year 1928 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This is the director’s third Palme d’Or nomination.

Danish director Lars von Trier, who won the Palme d’Or two years ago for the musical Dancer in the Dark, will show his new thriller Dogville. The film stars Nicole Kidman as a woman on the run who takes refuge in a small town inhabited by an anguished apple grower, his wife and their seven children.

French director Patrice Chereau, actress Meg Ryan and director Steven Soderbergh are in this year’s jury.

Celebs expected at this year’s festival include Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Lauren Bacall, Laurence Fishburne, Keanu Reeves, Monica Bellucci, Toni Collette and James Caan.

The 56th Cannes Film Festival opens May 14 in Paris with Penelope Cruz‘s new comedy Fanfan la Tulipe, a remake of the 1952 French film starring Gina Lollobrigida.

The French festival also showcases international films out of competition. Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated sci-fi sequel The Matrix: Reloaded premieres worldwide May 15 on the festival’s second day.

The festival closes on May 25.

Here is the complete list of films in competition:

Les Invasions Barbares, Denys Arcand, Canada

Il Cuore Altrove, Pupi Avati, Italy

Carandiru, Hector Babenco, Brazil

Uzak, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey

Mystic River, Clint Eastwood, United States

The Brown Bunny, Vincent Gallo, United States

The Moab Story/The Tulse Luper Suitcases–Part I, Peter Greenaway, Britain

Shara, Naomi Kawase, Japan

Akarui Mirai, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan

A Cinq Heures de l’Apres-Midi, Samira Makhmalbaf, Iran

Ce Jour-La, Raoul Ruiz, Switzerland

Father and Son, Alexandre Sokorov, Russia

Dogville, Lars von Trier, Denmark

Elephant, Gus Van Sant, United States

Purple Butterfly, Lu Ye, China

Les Cotelettes, Bertrand Blier, France

La Petite Lili, Claude Miller, France

Swimming Pool, Francois Ozon, France

Les Egares, Andre Techine, France

Tiresia, Bertand Bonello, France

Out of competition:

Le Temps Du Loup, Michael Haneke, France

Vai E Vem, Joao Cesar Monteiro, Portugal

Mansion by the Lake, Lester James Peries, Sri Lanka

The Matrix: Reloaded, Andy and Larry Wachowski, United States

Les Triplettes de Belleville, Sylvain Chomet, France

Qui A Tué Bambi?, Gilles Marchand, France