Who said Cannes is a private club? The 64th Cannes Film Festival, which opens today, is full of fresh new talents with seven first time directors, two of them candidates for the famous Palme d’Or.

“It’s a happy coincidence,” says Cannes boss Thierry Frémaux. “We didn’t choose young directors on purpose, 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 with her first film, Sleeping Beauty. This erotic tale of a young call girl, who forgets about her clients in the morning, stars Emily Browning, the lead actress in Hollywood 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, may create strong controversy since its main character is a pedophile murderer.

Other fresh directors 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 actor Ryan Gosling; and Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, with We Need to Talk About Kevin, the portrait of a teenage sociopath.

Could they win the Palme d’Or? It happened in the past. Martin Scorsese with Taxi Driver in 1976, Steven Soderbergh with Sex, Lies and Videotape in 1989, Australian Jane Campion in 1993 with The Piano and Quentin Tarantino with Pulp Fiction in 1994. Who will be next?