The Cannes Competition line-up is traditionally an exclusive gathering of established auteurs or rising young filmmakers who have paid their dues competing in other strands of the fest’s vast official selection. It can therefore take someone like Hong Sang-soo multiple Un Certain Regard selections before he finally gets invited to main competition (as he finally did this year with his very fine In Another Country). Meanwhile, there are directors like Ken Loach, who, once having breached the Competition, get a seemingly free pass to future births, no matter the quality of the submitted work. By these standards, then, one of the more unexpected inclusions in this year’s line-up was Jeff Nichols, a young American director who’s previous CV includes only two films, the under-seen Shotgun Stories and last year’s Critic’s Week winner, Take Shelter. But I certainly don’t begrudge Nichols or his new film, Mud, this opportunity: Based on the excellent Take Shelter alone, a fighting chance at some legitimate Cannes hardware is more than appropriate, even without working his way up the proverbial totem, cutting his teeth multiple times over in less visible line-ups.