LEADING LADIES: Next month’s Cannes Film Festival puts an accent on women both in front of and behind the camera.

Emmanuelle Bercot’s “Standing Tall” is to open the festival on May 13, although the film is not in competition for the coveted Palme d’Or, and the French director and actress also stars in Maïwenn’s “Mon Roi,” which is one of the movies selected for the competition from a total of 1,854 submitted for viewing.

Valérie Donzelli’s Truffaut-inspired “Marguerite and Julien” will also be in competition, while among the selection for Un Certain Regard, for which Isabella Rossellini is president of the jury, are Alice Winocour’s “Maryland,” starring Diane Kruger, and Iranian director Ida Panahandeh’s first movie, “Nahid.”

Natalie Portman’s first directing endeavor, “Sipur Al Ahava Ve Choshech,” or “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” will get a special screening.

Among other movies showing out of competition are Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man” and George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

There will be plenty of red carpet moments for leading ladies from the selected movies, too. They include Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, who co-star in Todd Haynes’ “Carol;” Marion Cotillard, who plays alongside Michael Fassbender in Justin Kurcel’s “Macbeth;” Naomi Watts, who appears in Gus Van Sant’s “The Sea of Trees;” and Isabelle Huppert, who stars opposite Matthew McConnaughy in Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s “Louder than Bombs.”

Catherine Deneuve, who stars in Bercot’s “Standing Tall,” will also make an appearance, said the festival’s artistic director Thierry Frémaux at a press conference revealing the majority of the festival’s lineup on Thursday. The selection committee still had to decide on a few movies for selection, he noted.

“A few arrived just two days ago that we wish to see,” he said.

Aside from having a strong feminine presence, this year’s movie selection is more international than ever, and plenty of new or lesser-known names feature.

“Our mission is to put names on the map of world cinema,” said Frémaux. “[The selection] is beautiful and new and it offers up theories and takes risks,” he added.

He said it is a particularly strong year for French filmmaking, and noted that three Italian movies are also in competition.

He also praised the strength of Korean directors as well as the growth of a new school of Indian moviemakers.

Other highlights at the festival, which runs until May 24, are to include the return of Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao Hsien with “The Assassin.” Movies by China’s Jia Zhang-Ke and Japan’s Kore-Eda Hirokazu also feature in the official selection, as does Hungarian director László Nemes’ firstr movie, “Son of Saul.”

Members of the jury are to be revealed over the next few days. Frémaux noted that since it has two presidents this year – brothers Joel and Ethan Coen – only seven other members are to be named to ensure unanimous decision-making.

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