Cannes rolls out the red carpet with a comedy opening festival Eds: Festival runs from May 13-24

Cannes rolls out the red carpet with a comedy opening festival Eds: Festival runs from May 13-24Cannes  - A 3-D comedy about a cranky old man who ties helium balloons to his house in the hope of fulfilling a boyhood dream of flying to South America makes Cannes Film Festival history Wednesday when it becomes first animated movie to open the world's greatest movie fest.

But apart from celebrating innovation in movie making, the film titled Up, from US director Pete Docter, helps to kick off the 20- movie race for the festival's top honours which this year is dominated by films from some of the world's top directors.

This includes new movies from America's Quentin Tarantino and Ang Lee as well as Spain's Pedro Almodovar, Britain's Ken Loach, New Zealand's Jane Campion and Denmark's Lars von Trier.

However, when the global movie business turns up at the legendary Cote d'Azur resort it is likely to find the 12-day movie marathon rather short of its normal round of high-voltage glamour and glitz.

With the economic crisis having cut a swathe through the world film industry over the last year, filmmakers from Hollywood through to Bollywood have faced cost-cutting, studio layoffs and an ever more cautious army of producers and movie financiers.

Already signs have emerged that the motion picture business has scaled back plans for the lavish parties and extravagant promotional events that have always been a feature of the festival.

Hollywood's traditional glamour offensive in Cannes might also be rather muted this year as the US movie industry has tightened its belt and a comparatively small number of American films have been selected for the festival.

That said, however, a cache of stars is heading to the French Mediterranean town and its famous beachfront for gala screenings of their latest movies.

A-listers in Cannes this year are likely to include Penelope Cruz, Gerard Depardieu, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt.

A large slew of Asian movies are also to screen in this year's festival, such as Philippine director Brillante Medoza's Kinatay which tells the tale of gang of hit men and Chun Feng Chen Zui De Ye Wan (Spring Fever) by Chinese director Lou Ye about an erotic threesome.

Lou is defying a 5-year ban on filmmaking imposed by Beijing in 2006 as a result of his previous Cannes entry Summer Palace, to bring his latest movie to Cannes in the hope of winning the festival's coveted Palme d'Or.

Marking out the growing international interest in Palestinian cinema, Nazareth-born director Elia Suleiman's The Time That Remains has also been selected for the main competition. The film looks at the life of a Palestinian family over about seven decades.

But the programme for the 62nd Cannes festival tilts towards a heavy dose of horror and violence, including Tarantino's ultra- violent Inglourious Basterds about a group of bloodthirsty Nazi hunters.

Leading Korean director Park Chan Wook also returns to Cannes this year with his priest-turned-vampire film Bak-Jwi (Thirst), which has already been racing up the movie charts in his home country.

Von Trier is also set to raise the horror notch at Cannes this year with his Antichrist in which Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg find themselves confronting both their own inner fears and some dark forces in a deserted cabin in the woods.

The chill factor is also expected to be high in Austrian director Michael Haneke's Das Weisse Band (The White Ribbon) about a series of strange accidents that help to chart the rise of Nazism in rural pre- World War II Germany.

Meanwhile, a man bent on avenging the death of his daughter in veteran action Hong Kong director Jonnie To's Vengeance is also screening in Cannes' main competition.

The gentler side of this year's Cannes programme is likely to be provided by Almodovar's Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces) and Campion's Bright Star with Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish as John Keats and his lover Fanny Brawne.

Oscar-winning Almodovar's drama set in the wake of the death of a movie producer forms part of an impressive contingent of European movies that have been lined up for the festival.

This also includes veteran Italian director Marco Bellocchio's Vincere about Mussolini's wife.

Social realism over the coming days at Cannes is likely to come from British director Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank about a teenager facing up to a parent's new lover and France's Jacques Audiard, Un Prophete (A Prophet).

Audiard's movie is about a young man's coming of age in a prison ruled by a Corsican gang leader. (dpa)