Asian filmmakers will be out in force at this year's Cannes Film Festival, which should please Quentin Tarantino - the president of this year's festival jury and a self-confessed devotee of Asian cinema. Of the 18 films that have been selected for the slimmed-down competition section, six are from Asia, including Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. Asian titles are also present in the festival's expanded Out of Competition section and most of the sidebars, including Un Certain Regard, which is usually reserved for more experimental films. Hong Kong's major representative is the highly anticipated next feature from Wong Kar-kai - 2046 - which stars just about every Chinese actor with the ability to fill an arthouse theatre and make critics swoon. Tony Leung Chiu-wai plays a writer - a continuation of his role from In the Mood for Love - whose story becomes a futuristic film-within-a-film. The cast also includes Chang Chen, Faye Wong, Zhang Ziyi, Carina Lau Ka-ling, Gong Li, Japan's Kimura Takuya and Thailand's Bird Thongchai McIntyre. Leung's co-star from In the Mood for Love, Maggie Cheung Man-yuk, also makes a special appearance. The film is one of two - with Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 - that Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux described as 'not entirely ready' (at least when the lineup was announced). But it may not matter if Wong hasn't put the finishing touches to the film when it unspools in the south of France later this month. In the Mood for Love wasn't entirely ready when it screened at Cannes in 2000, but it still won the best actor prize for Leung and the Technical Grand Prize. Competing with Wong's long-awaited opus are two films from Japan, two from South Korea and - for the first time in the festival's history - a film from Thailand. Japan's contributions - Oshii Mamoru's Innocence and Kore-Eda Hirokazu's Nobody Knows - reveal two different faces of Japanese filmmaking. Innocence, one of two animated films competing at Cannes (the other is the sequel to Shrek), is the follow-up to Oshii's blockbuster sci-fi anime Ghost in the Shell and takes place in the same future world, where cyborgs have souls. Nobody Knows is a drama about four brothers, with the same mother but different fathers, who have to look after themselves when their mother goes away. The two South Korean films also represent both the genre and arthouse sides of Asian cinema. Woman is the Future of Man is the fifth film from arthouse favourite Hong Sang-soo and tells the story of two friends who decide to track down an old girlfriend. Old Boy, directed by Park Chan-wook, is an action-packed thriller about a man who, after 15 years in captivity, sets out to hunt down his captor and discover the reason why he was locked up. Meanwhile, the Thai entry, Tropical Malady, is likely to be edgy and experimental. Its director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, was awarded the top prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes two years ago for Blissfully Yours - which involved a character who was shedding his skin - and also recently directed a digital video feature, The Adventures of Iron Pussy, about a transvestite secret agent. His latest work is set in the jungle and follows a soldier who attempts to track down a mysterious wild beast that appears to have carried off his friend. Mainland China will be represented at the festival by Zhang Yimou's second martial arts film, Flying Daggers, which will screen in the Out of Competition section. China also makes an appearance in Un Certain Regard with Passages, the debut feature from Beijing Film Academy graduate Yang Chao. Korean swordplay epic Sword in the Moon, directed by Kim Eui-suk, will also screen in Un Certain Regard, and it's rumoured that another high-profile Asian title will join the official selection before the festival begins. With so much Asian talent on the Croisette, it's more than likely that some of Cannes' top honours will be heading east, with both 2046 and Innocence tipped as potential winners. A constellation of Asian stars is expected to tread the red carpet: Maggie Cheung; Gong Li; Zhang Ziyi, who stars in both 2046 and Flying Daggers; Tony Leung; and Andy Lau Tak-wah (Flying Daggers). Hong Kong director Tsui Hark will be on the jury with Tarantino. All this star wattage should compensate for last year, when Asia had a low profile at the festival, not least because Sars kept many stars and industry folk at home. Hollywood will be there, with nine films screening in official selection including Troy, Kill Bill: Vol 2, the Coen brothers' The Ladykillers and Irwin Winkler's De-Lovely. Among the stars expected to attend are Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Charlize Theron, Cameron Diaz and Uma Thurman.