The Cannes Film Festival returns this year for its 74th edition, running from July 6 to 17 after the Covid-19 pandemic deprived the world’s leading film festival of its 2020 edition.

A slew of past Palme d’Or winners and arthouse favorites are set to return to Cannes as organizers announced the official selections for the competition on Thursday.

Among the 24 directors whose films are heading to the Cote d’Azur are Sean Penn for his new film “Flag Day”, Italy’s Nanni Moretti with “Tri Piani” and France’s Jacques Audiard with “Les Oympiades”.

They join three big auteurs that had already been announced: Wes Anderson for “The French Dispatch”, Paul Verhoeven for “Benedetta” and Leos Carax for “Annette”.

“Annette” is the first film in a decade from French arthouse darling Carax and his first in English. It stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard as a celebrity couple awaiting a mysterious child.

Dutch filmmaker Verhoeven – who has often married art and salaciousness with movies like “Basic Instinct”, “Showgirls” and “Elle” – is being recognized for his latest offering “Benedetta”, about a lesbian nun in a 17th-century Italian convent.

Usually slated for May, this year the festival was delayed until July. France will have lifted the evening Covid-19 curfew by then, although travellers may still face quarantine measures, including those from Britain.

Festival director Thierry Frémaux said there will be the usual parties and dinners as well as events to give holidaymakers on the Cote d’Azur a chance to enjoy the event, such as screenings on the beach.

Covid-19 precautions will still be in force, however. “We won’t be kissing at the top of the [red carpet]steps,” Frémaux said.

Oscar-winner Jodie Foster, who first walked the red carpet at Cannes as a 13-year-old when she starred in “Taxi Driver”, will be presented with an honorary Palme d’Or.

One silver lining from the disruption of the past year has been a backlog of cinematic gold that gave organizers some 2,000 films to wade through as they made their selection for the 74th edition.

Another past Palme d’Or winner returning to the Croisette is Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul with his first English-language film “Memoria”, starring Tilda Swinton.

Iran’s two-time Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi will also return with “A Hero” while Russia’s renowned director Kirill Serebrennikov – who has lately faced significant pressure from authorities – will be in competition with “Petrov’s Flu”.

Here are the 24 films competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or prize, to be awarded by a jury headed by US director Spike Lee.

– “Annette” by Leos Carax, France

– “The French Dispatch” by Wes Anderson, US

– “Benedetta” by Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands

– “A Hero” by Asghar Farhadi, Iran

– “Tout s’est Bien Passé” (Everything Went Well) by Francois Ozon, France

– “Tre Piani” (Three Floors) by Nanni Moretti, Italy

– “Titane” (Titan) by Julia Ducournau, France

– “Red Rocket” by Sean Baker, US

– “Petrov’s Flu” by Kirill Serebrennikov, Russia

– “Par un Demi-Clair Matin” (now known by the title “France”) by Bruno Dumont, France

– “Nitram” by Justin Kurzel, Australia

– “Memoria” by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand

– “Lingui” by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Chad

– “Les Olympiades” (Paris’ 13th District) by Jacques Audiard, France

– “Les Intranquilles” (The Restless Ones) by Joachim Lafosse, Belgium

– “La Fracture” by Catherine Corsini, France

– “The Worst Person in the World” by Joachim Trier, Norway

– “Compartment No 6” by Juho Kuosmanen, Finland

– “Casablanca Beats” by Nabil Ayouch, France-Morocco

– “Ahed’s Knee” by Nadav Lapid, Israel

– “Drive My Car” by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Japan

– “Bergman Island” by Mia Hansen-Love, France

– “The Story of My Wife” by Ildiko Enyedi, Hungary

– “Flag Day” by Sean Penn, US – AFP

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