The 38th Deauville film festival began on Friday with Harvey Keitel as guest of honour at the seaside resort's annual celebration of American film.
Six first-time filmmakers are among the 15 vying for the festival's Grand Prize to be handed out on September 8 by a jury headed by French actress and director Sandrine Bonnaire.
Oscar-winning Frenchman Michel Gondry is among those in competition with "The We and the I", which follows a bunch of schoolkids on a bus through the Bronx and premiered at the Cannes film festival in June.
Other high-profile contenders at the festival on France's Normandy coast include Benh Zeitlin with his fantastical "Beasts of the Southern Wild" about a cluster of Louisiana towns being swallowed by the encroaching sea, which took the Camera d'Or first film prize in Cannes.
And the festival will pay a special tribute to Keitel, star of such screen classics as Abel Ferrara's "Bad Lieutenant" and Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs."
Last year's Grand Prize went to the US auteur Jeff Nichols, whose latest film the Mississippi-set coming-of-age drama "Mud" will show out of competition.