The Cannes Film Festival, the world's premier film event, has long been a holy grail for Japanese filmmakers. Selection for the main competition is the ultimate goal for many, though screenings in other sections convey prestige at home that other festivals, in Japan and elsewhere, can't match.

But at Cannes' 72nd edition, which is being held until May 25, Japanese films are conspicuous by their absence. There are none in the competition, which was won last year by Hirokazu Kore-eda's dark family drama "Shoplifters," despite pre-festival speculation that Kore-eda's first foreign language film, "The Truth," would vie for Cannes' top prize, the Palme d'Or. (The official explanation was that the film was not ready, but a festival insider told me it was not considered up to snuff.)

I heard of other Cannes submissions filmed in Japan, but only two by Japanese directors are being screened. One, in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar, is Takashi Miike's "First Love," a return to the violence-soaked, outrageously over-the-top genre exercises that first made Miike a global cult sensation nearly two decades ago.