A wave of Canadian filmmakers — both established and emerging — descend on the Cannes Film Festival today as the annual cinematic celebration on the French Riviera gets underway for 2014.

A record three Canadians — stalwarts David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan as well as recent favourite Xavier Dolan — are unveiling their latest in official competition. Among the 18 films vying for the festival's coveted Palme d'Or are Cronenberg's Hollywood tale Maps to the Stars, Egoyan's kidnap drama The Captive and Dolan's mother-son story Mommy.

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The Canadian wave at the Cannes Film Festival this year is 'an incredible vindication of our film culture,' says Atom Egoyan. (Aaron Harris/Canadian Press)

"This is an incredible vindication of our film culture," Toronto-based Egoyan said of the historic Canadian presence on La Croisette. "It's just amazing."

Their rivals for the top prize include the New Wave legend Jean-Luc Godard, French director Michel Hazanavicius, Britain's Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, and Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne of Belgium.

Director Jane Campion leads the competition jury, with filmmakers Sofia Coppola and Nicholas Winding Refn and actors Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernale also on the judging panel.

Canadians across different programs, sidebars

A strong contingent of Canadians are also screening films out of the main competition, in various sidebars or in special showcases for global buyers, including:

  • Director Dean DeBlois, who is screening his animated feature How To Train Your Dragon 2.
  • Actor Ryan Gosling, making his directorial debut with Lost River in the Un Certain Regard program of up-and-coming or innovative filmmakers.
  • Writer-director Stéphane Lafleur, whose Tu Dors Nicole is screening in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar.
  • Lowell Dean's indie horror-comedy WolfCop, which is searching for international sales.
  • Deanne Foley's Relative Happiness, screening as part of Telefilm's Perspective Canada program.

A host of Canadian short films will also be showing in Cannes during the festival, including Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre's Jutra, Chris Di Staulo's Somnolence and Harmony Wagner's Queen of the Crows.

Cannes officially open with the world premiere of Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman and screening out of competition. The festival continues through May 25.

The Captive

Atom Egoyan's The Captive, a psychological thriller and mystery starring Ryan Reynolds, is one of a record three films by Canadians to compete at Cannes this year. (Queen of the Nights Films/Eone Films)