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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 May 2006, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Cannes jury to decide best film
Penelope Cruz in Volver
Two sisters support each other amid death and murder in Volver
The 59th Cannes Film Festival is to close with the presentation of honours including the top Palme d'Or prize.

Pedro Almodovar's Volver and Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu's Babel have emerged as the critics' favourites from the 20 movies vying for the best film prize.

Two British film-makers are among the contenders - veteran Ken Loach for The Wind That Shakes The Barley and Andrea Arnold for her first feature, Red Road.

The festival opened on 17 May with the world premiere of The Da Vinci Code.

The films in competition for the Palme d'Or also include Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, Fast Food Nation directed by Richard Linklater, Southland Tales directed by Richard Kelly, and Italian film-maker Nanni Moretti's Il Caimano.

London Evening Standard critic Derek Malcolm said: "The competition on the whole has been very strong."

But he added: "Very rarely does the jury agree with the critics.

"These days the jury is full of actors and actresses. It is very difficult to know what they are going to go for."

'No buzz'

Allan Hunter of Screen International said the festival had lacked a film that created a genuine buzz among the 4,000 journalists and critics in attendance.

Scene from Babel
Babel explores relationships between parents and children
"The wow factor appears to be all that is missing in a year that hindsight may judge to have been better than average," he said.

The jury to decide the festival's best film is led by Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai, and also includes actors Samuel L Jackson, Tim Roth, Monica Bellucci and Helena Bonham Carter.

The Da Vinci Code garnered poor reviews after opening the festival, and sparked protests around the world over its religious content.

But it still enjoyed the second most successful film opening in history, taking $224m (119m) around the world in its first weekend.

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