CANNES, France (Reuters) - Critics rank Michael Moore as one of the favourites to land the top prize at the Cannes film Festival after his blistering anti-Bush documentary won a standing ovation.

"Fahrenheit 911" is now firmly in line to be the first documentary to land the Palme d'Or since Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle's marine epic "The World of Silence" in 1956.

The documentary, launched in a storm of publicity after a row over its distribution in a U.S. election year, is a relentless tirade against Bush's handling of the Iraq conflict and the "war on terror."

Moore would dearly love to see Bush defeated in November's election and critics saw the emotive documentary as an effective rallying cry for his opponents.

Screen International, which takes the festival temperature every day, put Moore up with French director Agnes Jaoui's "Look at me" on Tuesday as one of the leading contenders.

The magazine asks critics from as far apart as Israel, Estonia and Canada to pick their favourites so far at the festival.

The influential Variety trade magazine called the film "a blatant cinematic 2004 campaign pamphlet" and said Moore could convince disillusioned and disenfranchised Americans to vote.

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