April 17, 2003 11:00 AM

Meg Ryan is going to France. And no, it’s nothing political.

The actress is one of many Hollywood heavyweights participating in world cinema’s annual rite of spring, the 56th Cannes Film Festival, due to kick off May 14 and run through May 25.

The “Sleepless in Seattle” star, 41, will serve on the festival’s international jury, which last year selected Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” as its best picture — an honor that helped pave the way for the director, his star (Adrien Brody) and his screenwriter (Ronald Harwood) to collect Oscars last month.

Ryan’s colleagues will include “Ocean’s 11” director Steven Soderbergh; Bollywood pin-up Aishwarya Rai; French actors Karin Viard and Jean Rochefort; Chinese director Jiang Wen; Bosnian director Danis Tanovic; Italian writer Erri de Luca and head of the jury Patrice Chereau, a French director (“Queen Margot”) who also wrote the Hollywood script for the Jim Carrey movie “The Truman Show,” Reuters reports.

Trade reports note that Cannes has been slow to announce what movies it will be showing in competition this year. There have been few reports, however, to suggest that Americans might boycott the festival, given the current strain in American-French relations over the war in Iraq.

What has been announced is that the festival will open with a remake of the 1952 film “Fanfan La Tulipe,” a swashbuckling 18th century drama. The picture stars Penelope Cruz, which will likely mean that she will be there — as will, it might also be expected, her main man, Tom Cruise.

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