The Breakthrough: The Scots actor was a familiar face from supporting roles in Trainspotting and Braveheart ; ironically, it was winning Best Actor for My Name Is Joe in 1998 that helped people to remember Mullan's name.
Post-Cannes: One of the most reliable character actors around, Mullan can still deliver in everything from Tyrannosaur to War Horse . He's one of Britain's best directors, too.
The Breakthrough: Ray's neo-realist classic Pather Panchali swept the board in India's film awards. Cannes flagged it up at the 1956 Festival, where it took "Best Human Document" and made Ray an art-house darling.
Post-Cannes: Pather Panchali's sequel Aparajito won prizes at both Venice and Berlin, making Ray amongst the first directors to win acclaim from all three of Europe's major film festivals.
The Breakthrough: $125,000 debut Stranger Than Paradise returned from Cannes 1984 with the Camera D'Or - the Festival's first signal of an interest in American indie that would flower into the 1989-1994 indie invasion.
Post-Cannes: Jarmusch missed out on the mainstream success of Soderbergh, Lee and Tarantino, keeping to his homegrown, hipster groove. A Cannes regular, he won the Grand Prix in 2005 for Broken Flowers .
The Breakthrough: Beaten to the 1996 Best Actress prize by Brenda Blethyn, but there's no denying that Watson's striking debut in the Grand Prix-winning Breaking The Waves made the biggest splash that year.
Post-Cannes: Two Oscar nominations (one for Breaking The Waves ) led to an idiosyncratic career as a not-quite star in Cannes-friendly films like Punch-Drunk Love and Synecdoche, New York .
The Breakthrough: The most recent debutant to win the Palme D'Or, Mungiu beat the likes of David Fincher and the Coens with 2007's 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days .
Post-Cannes: Although he helped to popularise the Romanian New Wave, Mungiu has been relatively quiet aside from masterminding 2009 compendium Tales Of The Golden Age . His latest, Beyond The Hills , is in competition this year.
The Breakthrough: Against the backdrop of a national scandal in France about glorifying riot culture, Kassovitz won Best Director for his 1995 debut, La Haine .
Post-Cannes: Kassovitz's initial promise has fizzled out in too many mediocre gun-for-hire projects like Vin Diesel vehicle Babylon A.D . He's perhaps better known now as an actor, notably as Amelie 's love interest Nino.
The Breakthrough: Only Mike Leigh appreciated the charisma and danger of gnarly Mancunian Thewlis; the latter's performance as Johnny in Leigh's Naked won Best Actor at Cannes in 1993.
Post-Cannes: A brief dalliance with stardom ended with the ignominy of The Island Of Doctor Moreau , so Thewlis has specialised as a character actor for the Coens, Spielberg, Malick and - most memorably - as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films.
The Breakthrough: The buoyancy of modern South Korean cinema was a relative secret until Quentin Tarantino's Jury awarded Park's 2004 film Oldboy the Grand Prix.
Post-Cannes: Oldboy is still regarded as a high watermark for South Korean cinema, and Park has struggled to match its ferocious brilliance.
The Breakthrough: A major comedic star in his native France but still relatively unknown to mainstream audiences, The Artist brought Dujardin unprecedented attention and a Best Actor prize at last year's Festival.
Post-Cannes: Dujardin added a BAFTA and an Oscar (amongst others) to his tally but, for now, he's sticking to what he knows and staying in France.
Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender
The Breakthrough: McQueen had to rethink his day job as a Turner-prize winning artist when debut film Hunger nabbed the Camera D'Or at the 2008 Festival, also propelling Fassbender from 300 bit-part player to major star.
Post-Cannes: Fassbender hasn't looked back, mixing Cannes-friendly fare ( Fish Tank ) with blockbusters ( X-Men: First Class ). Still, his defining role was in McQueen's follow-up Shame , confirming their status as the power couple of challenging cinema.