Steve Granitz
Steve Daly
April 29, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Could it be payback for our Jerry Lewis jokes? Cannes film festival reps have announced their 52nd lineup — unspooling May 12 to 23 — and only two purely American films made the final cut for the competition. Programming chief Gilles Jacob, who decried ”the increasing rarity of (artistically) ambitious projects at the Hollywood studios,” stuck to artier fare (though some of his picks do have major-studio distribution): John Sayles’ ”Limbo,” with David Strathairn as a haunted Alaskan fisherman who finds love with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Tim Robbins’ ”Cradle Will Rock,” a period piece about New York theater in the ’30s with a large ensemble cast that includes John and Joan Cusack, Bill Murray, and Susan Sarandon.

Meanwhile, two Franco-American coproductions have Stateside cineasts intrigued. David Lynch will tell ”The Straight Story,” about two brothers reunited after a 400-mile lawn-mower road trip. Jim Jarmusch (”Down by Law”) has the hitman opus ”Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.” Look for the loudest critical contretemps to emerge vis-à-vis ”Dogma,” Kevin Smith’s allegedly sacrilegious comedy, which will show out of competition.

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