EXCLUSIVE: Gus Van Sant’s The Sea Of Trees was launched as one of the hot projects in Cannes last year, and now it’s back — in Competition. Matthew McConaughey stars as Arthur Brennan, a man dealing with love and loss who treks to Japan’s mysterious dense forest known as The Sea of Trees where people go to contemplate life and death. As he finds a place to commit suicide, he meets Takumi Nakamura, a Japanese man who also appears to have lost his way (seen in the exclusive clip above). The two men embark on a journey of reflection and survival, which affirms Arthur’s will to live and reconnects him to his love with his wife.

Ken Watanabe and Naomi Watts also star in the Chris Sparling-penned drama. The Sea Of Trees screens here Saturday night. This is Van Sant’s return to Competition after his 2007 Paranoid Park, for which he won the 60th Anniversary Prize. He previously scooped the Palme d’Or and directing award for Elephant.

By the end of last year’s Cannes, financier and producer Ken Kao and Alex Walton’s international sales, production and financing company, BLOOM, had virtually sold out the world on Sea Of Trees. A U.S. deal is likely to come during this festival.