The finishing touches were being applied up and down the Croisette on Monday (11 May) ahead of the start of the 68th Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday.

The stage is nearly set for the 12-day pageant that is cinema's most prestigious festival, with 19 films competing for the coveted Palme d'Or, which will be handed out along with other prizes at the end of the festival on 24 May.

This year pays tribute to actress Ingrid Bergman, who would have turned 100 this year and whose daughter Isabella Rossellini will preside over one of the juries. Bergman, who starred alongside Humphrey Bogart in the classic Casablanca, graces the official poster for this year's festival.

Cinema fans were already gathering on the Croisette to make sure they will get the closest they possibly can to the celebrities attending the festival.

Presided over by filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, Palme d'Or laureate Gus Van Sant's The Sea of Trees and Justin Kurzel's Macbeth are both up for the top prize. Todd Haynes' Carol, a drama featuring Cate Blanchett about a lesbian love affair, joins the list.

Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts both star in Van Sant's enigmatic tale of a suicidal American meeting a Japanese in a forest, while Michael Fassbender plays lead in Kurzel's adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, which also stars Marion Cotillard.

US director Woody Allen is also back after a three-year hiatus with a showing of Irrational Man, which stars Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone, although as usual he refused to be placed in competition.

Natalie Portman will make her directorial debut in one of five announced special screenings. Amy, a documentary on the late singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse by Asif Kapadia, is one of two midnight screenings.