The 43rd Cannes Film Festival opening Thursday offers a world view of the cinema that reflects rapidly changing events.
Movies from Eastern Europe, the Far East and Africa are among the 19 films competing for the Golden Palm award during the 12 days of competition.
Saturday will be devoted to "Europe 90, Cinema Without Borders" for meetings and discussions between filmmakers from East and West, marking new freedoms enjoyed by Eastern Europe's film industry.
The prestigious festival also serves as a vast film market and is expected to draw up to 12,000 industry professionals, 3,000 journalists and hordes of film buffs to the seaside Palais des Festivals.
Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci will preside over the jury of 10, which includes American actress Anjelica Huston, French actress Fanny Ardant, French director Bertrand Blier and English screenwriter Christopher Hampton, who adapted "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" for the screen.
The festival will open with an out-of-competition showing of "Dreams," an autobiographical movie by Akiro Kurosawa, the 80-year-old Japanese film master. It closes with another out-of-competition film, "Comfort of Strangers," by American director Paul Schrader.
Three American films are expected to be serious contenders for the Golden Palm: Clint Eastwood's "White Hunter, Black Heart," David Lynch's "Wild at Heart" and "Come See the Paradise," directed by English-born Alan Parker, about a Japanese-American family interned in a camp during World War II.
There will be a special out-of-competition showing of "Cry Baby," starring Patty Hearst and directed by John Waters, the unconventional director of "Hairspray."
Films by directors from Eastern countries celebrating newly won freedom are expected to attract attention. These include "Przesluchanie" (The Interrogation) by Polish director Ryszard Bugajski, "Ucho" (The Ear) from Czechoslovakia and an out-of-competition film from Yugoslavia, "Umetni Raj," (Artificial Paradise) by Karpo Godina.
The Soviet Union is competing with "Matj" (Mother), directed by Gleb Panfilov, and a French-Soviet co-production of "Taxi Blues," directed by Pavel Lounguine.
Competing for France will be Bernard Tavernier's "Daddy Nostalgie," starring Jane Birkin and Dirk Bogarde, "La Captive du Desert" (Desert Captive), starring Sandrine Bonnaire, and "Cyrano de Bergerac," starring Gerard Depardieu. Directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, "Cyrano" is already a box-office hit in France.
Also vying for the Golden Palm will be "New Wave," a Swiss-French co-production directed by the father of new-wave cinema, Jean-Luc Godard, whose avant-garde style was born in the 1960s.
A Chinese-Japanese entry called "Ju Dou," directed by Chang Yimou and Yang Fengliang, deals with a troubled marriage of the 1920s.
The lone British entry is Ken Loach's "Hidden Agenda," a documentary-style film about troubled Ireland.
From Burkina Faso, Rasmane Ouedraogo is in competition with a film called "Tilai," about conflict and love in an African village.
Eastwood's "White Hunter, Black Heart," about a director obsessed with killing an elephant, is expected to attract attention. Based on a story by Peter Viertel, it was allegedly inspired by the 1952 filming of "African Queen."