Who said Cannes is a private club? The 64th edition of the Cannes film festival, which opens today, is full of fresh new talents with no less than seven first time directors in the official selection, two of them being candidates for the famous Palme d’Or.

“It’s a happy coincidence”, says Cannes boss Thierry Frémaux whose team saw 1,715 movies to chose the 49 that will be screened at the Palais des festivals, representing 33 different countries from all parts of the world. “We didn't chose young directors on purpose,” explains Frémaux, “but it turned out they deserved to compete with the likes of Pedro Almodovar, Nanni Moretti or Lars Von Trier.”

Among the newcomers is Australian writer Julia Leigh, whose first film “Sleeping Beauty” will open the competition on Thursday. This erotic tale of a young call girl, who forgets about her clients in the morning, stars Emily Browning, who was the lead actress in Hollywood’s recent blockbuster “Sucker Punch.’

Another first time director is Austrian Markus Schleinzer, a former casting director of Palme d’Or winner Michael Haneke. His movie “Michael” could create strong controversy since its main character is a pedophile murderer.

Other fresh directors in competition are French actress Maiwenn, who will present “Polisse,” a cop movie with French rapper JoeyStarr, the Danish Nicolas Winding Refn, who brings “Drive,” his first American film starring Ryan Gosling, and Scottish director Lynne Ramsay who will defend “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” the portrait of a teenage sociopath played by young American actor Ezra Miller.

“Those films show that you can be a relatively unknown director and still enter the competition,” insists Frémaux. And could they win the Palme d'or? It happened many times in the past. Martin Scorsese with “Taxi Driver” in 1976, the Serbian Emir Kusturica in 1985 with “When Father Was Away on Business,” Steven Soderbergh with “Sex, Lies and Videotape” in 1989, Australian Jane Campion in 1993 with “The Piano,” Quentin Tarantino with “Pulp Fiction” in 1994 or Romanian Cristian Mungiu in 2007 with “4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 days.” Who will be next?