An audience at the Cannes Film Festival in France have been given a sneak preview of Martin Scorcese's controversial new film 'Gangs of New York'.

Twenty minutes of the, as yet unfinished, feature were shown at the festival.

The film focuses on conflict between Irish Catholic immigrant and the Anglo-Protestant poor in 19th century New York.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a young Irish American who sets out to avenge the death of his father (Irish actor Liam Neeson). Cameron Diaz also stars.

'Gangs of New York' has been in production for several years. Dogged by delays, spiralling budgets and rumours of on-set rows, it is now due for release in December 2002.