Cannes can

Ryan Gilbey has said all there is to say for the moment about Terrence Malick (page 40), whose long-awaited Tree of Life is the main attraction at this year's Cannes Film Festival, which runs from 11 to 22 May. But it's the leading lights of European cinema who appear to dominate this year's selection.

The veteran Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar is showing La piel que habito (The Skin That I Live In), which stars Antonio Banderas; while Italy's Nanni Moretti presents Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), about a cardinal who is elected pope against his wishes. (In a typical gesture, Moretti also stars in the film as a psychiatrist called in to help the new pope overcome his panic.) Also in competition for the Palme d'Or, which this year will be judged by a panel headed by Robert De Niro, are Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Finland's Aki Kaurismäki.

The Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, best known for her striking adaptation of Alan Warner's novel Morvern Callar in 2002, will be screening We Need to Talk About Kevin, based on the book by Lionel Shriver. Tilda Swinton stars as the mother of the eponymous teenager responsible for a high-school massacre. Ramsay is one of four female directors who have been selected for this year's Cannes, after the 2010 festival was widely criticised for its male-dominated line-up.

The South Korean director Kim Ki-duk, whose films range from the meditative Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter . . . and Spring to the political Address Unknown, focusing on the frustrating lives of villagers living next to a US military base, will be showing his latest work, Arirang, in the
Un Certain Regard section. Also showing are films by Gus van Sant (Restless) and Bruno Dumont (Hors Satan), the French director who told the NS in 2007: "I think the French are diseased . . . France is searching for meaning and can't find it."

Out of competition, but opening the festival, will be Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. If nothing else, it'll be interesting to see how Allen portrays the much-filmed French capital, particularly after his recent London-set films such as Match Point, which were notable for their rather creaky attempts at depicting British life.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 09 May 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Beyond the cult of Bin Laden