PARIS (Reuters) - Quentin Tarantino returns to Cannes as part of a group of familiar faces at the world's biggest film festival that includes Pedro Almodovar, Ken Loach and New Zealand's Jane Campion.
Tarantino presents his long-awaited World War Two caper "Inglourious Basterds" starring Brad Pitt in the 20-strong main competition line-up announced by festival director Thierry Fremaux on Thursday.
The festival will also showcase the last film performance by Heath Ledger in the Terry Gilliam fantasy "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus." Ledger died mid-shoot last year and his part was completed by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell.
Tarantino, who won the Palme d'Or for "Pulp Fiction" in 1994, will be up against previous Cannes winners including Loach, who presents "Looking for Eric" starring Eric Cantona about a postman looking for life lessons from the former France and Manchester United soccer star.
Campion, the first woman to win the Palme d'Or with the 1993 film "The Piano," is showing "Bright Star" about the 19th century English poet John Keats.
Spanish director Almodovar, who has not won the top prize yet, brings an emotional drama called "Broken Embraces," which stars his longtime favorite Penelope Cruz.
The 62nd edition of the festival will open for the first time with an animated feature when "Up," a 3-D comedy directed by one of the creators of "Toy Story," kicks off proceedings at the opening ceremony on May 13.
The red carpet glamour, an essential component of the festival despite its emphasis on independent arthouse fare, will be supplied by stars including Cantona and Cruz, Monica Bellucci and Brad Pitt.
Fremaux acknowledged that the festival could not ignore the global economic crisis, but he brushed aside talk of empty hotel rooms and cost-shy studios cutting back on attendance.
"We are all of us going to see a festival that will not be unaware that the world is in crisis," he told a news conference. "We are going to try to make a festival which continues to be what it is," he said.
"We haven't felt the slightest reluctance on anybody's part, anyone saying 'we have to watch out because of the crisis'. I would say that ... more than ever Cannes is the rendezvous for creators and the industry."
The number of past Cannes participants gives a sense of familiarity to the films that will be judged by jury president Isabelle Huppert.
Lars von Trier, who won the Palme d'Or in 2000 for "Dancer in the Dark," is back with "Antichrist," a psychological horror film. "Brokeback Mountain" director Ang Lee, whose "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was a hit at Cannes in 2000, shows "Taking Woodstock," about the 1960s music festival.
Hong Kong action director Johnnie To brings "Vengeance," which, for French audiences at least, will be spiced up by the participation of veteran Gallic rocker Johnny Hallyday.
Other competition entries include "Spring Fever," a love story shot in secret by Chinese director Ye Lou and "Wild Grass" by Alain Resnais, the highbrow New Wave director, whose film "Hiroshima Mon Amour" was shown in Cannes 50 years ago.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)