Who is on the prestigious jury for the 77th Cannes Film Festival?

Greta Gerwig will be the first American female director to take on the role of Jury President when the Cannes Film Festival takes over the French Riviera this May.

Following a year in which she beat every record with her film ‘Barbie’, the American director, screenwriter, and actress Greta Gerwig is to preside over the feature film Competition Jury of the 77th Cannes Film Festival, which takes place 14th to 25th May.

She will be the first American female director to take on the role of Jury President at the Festival de Cannes and, at the age of 40, adds another record to her considerable list of awards: that of becoming the youngest person to take on the task since Sofia Loren only aged 31 in 1966, the second female director since Jane Campion in 2014, and the second American woman after Olivia de Haviland in 1965.

Gerwig is a movie fan

A heroine of our modern times, Greta Gerwig shakes up the status quo between a highly codified cinema industry and an era demanding great expansiveness. And she’s a cinephile.

“I love films – I love making them, going to them, talking about them,” said Gerwig in a statement. “As a cinephile, Cannes has always been the pinnacle of what the universal language of movies can be. Being vulnerable in a dark theater filled with strangers and watching a brand-new film is my favorite place to be. I am stunned, thrilled, and humbled to serve as the Cannes Film Festival Jury president. I cannot wait to see what journeys are in store for all of us!”

Greta Gerwig, photo credit: Ben Rayner

Greta Gerwig has gained recognition in American and worldwide cinema in less than 15 years. Originally from Sacramento, California, but a New Yorker by adoption, she dreamed of being a playwright and crafted her path toward the heights of brilliance with both consistency and a taste for risk.

Yesterday, ambassador of independent American cinema, today at the summit of worldwide box-office success, Greta Gerwig manages to combine what was previously judged incompatible: delivering arthouse blockbusters, narrowing the gap between art and industry, exploring contemporary feminist issues with deft as well as depth, and declaring her demanding artistic ambition from within an economic model that she embraces to put to better use.

She can do it all: acting, writing, and directing

Whether acting, writing, or directing, her artistic endeavors have recurrent leitmotifs, such as family upheaval, adolescent rites of passage, fear of loss of social status, or the emergence of artistic vocation via free characters, sometimes fragile and marginal, but also fierce.

Starting as an actress, Greta Gerwig became a screenwriter working on various projects. She co-wrote ‘Hannah Takes the Stairs’ (2007) and ‘Nights and Weekends’ (2008), which she also co-directed, then Frances Ha (2012), ‘Mistress America’ (2015), and, of course, Barbie with Noah Baumbach, her accomplice in art.

Her first solo work, ‘Lady Bird’ (2017) – a striking, tender, and melancholy portrait of adolescence’s torments, was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Director.

For her second film, Greta Gerwig ambitiously took hold of the American literature classic from 1868 by Louisa May Alcott, ‘Little Women’, again to take a fresh look at all the story’s female protagonists, to better examine their emancipation in a world dominated by men. In a double reading, the director also subtly discusses her place within the cinema system and the compromises required for commercial success to appeal to a mass audience.

Finally, her most recent feature film was released in July 2023, the tornado ‘Barbie’ plows the same furrow in even more spectacular fashion by facing up to that ambivalent idol of small girls, a symbol of the female-as-object, but also of woman-emancipated. In this fierce satire about the human condition, Great Gerwig nails everyday sexism and stereotypes with joyful intent. An international cultural phenomenon, ‘Barbie’ is the most significant success of the year and has made Greta Gerwig the most lucrative female film director in history.

Xavier Dolan, photo credit: Shayne Laverdiere

Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan is back

“Let’s hold on to our dreams because together, we can change the world. Anything is possible for those who dare, work, and never give up.” With this statement, filmmaker Xavier Dolan received the Jury Prize for Mommy at the 67th Festival de Cannes in 2014. At the helm of the Un Certain Regard Jury, he will celebrate the thirst for discovery and passion for other’s talent.

It was an obvious choice: Xavier Dolan’s filmmaking found its maturity in his extreme youth and boldness, of the kind that opens a world of possibilities, believing more in dreams than reality, and finding a way to rise to their creative ambitions.

“I am humbled and delighted to return to Cannes as President of the Un Certain Regard Jury,” said Xavier Dolanin a statemen. “Even more than making films myself, discovering the work of talented filmmakers has always been at the very heart of both my personal and professional journeys. In this responsibility, I can focus with the Un Certain Regard Jury members on an essential aspect of the art of film: stories told truthfully.”

Nolan is an Autodidact

Self-taught, he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in his first feature film, ‘I Killed My Mother’, at 19. Adapted from a short story he had written a few years earlier, this trial stroke was a master one and was chosen to represent Canada for the Academy Awards. In 2010, he revealed his multifaceted talent by being responsible for his second film’s art direction, costumes, and editing. With ‘Heartbeats’, he first entered Un Certain Regard when he was just 21.

Two years later, ‘Laurence Anyways’, which premiered at Un Certain Regard, won the section’s award for Best Actress ex-aequo for Suzanne Clément. His first award in Cannes highlighted Xavier Dolan’s delicate sense for directing actors and actresses, with whom he has developed loyal, intense collaborations.

‘Mommy’ Gave new exceptional roles to Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément after the psychological thriller ‘Tom at the Farm’. This 5th feature –his first in Competition– depicts a single mother’s difficulties raising her son. With deep emotion and poetry, he received the Jury Prize tied with Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Goodbye to Language’ from the hand of New Zealand director Jane Campion. With this choice, the Jury rewarded both the oldest (84) and the youngest (25) filmmakers in Competition, proving that originality is not the prerogative of youth, nor maturity that of experience. The following year, Xavier Dolan joined the Jury chaired by the Coen brothers at the 68th Festival de Cannes.

His return to directing sounded like a new declaration of love to actors and audiences alike. ‘It’s Only the End of the World’, an adaptation of Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play, was awarded the Grand Prix at the 69th Festival de Cannes. His fascination with acting can also be found in his following two films. ‘The Death and Life of John F. Donovan’ is the story of a young boy’s correspondence with his favorite actor, and ‘Matthias & Maxime’, presented in Competition in 2019.

He played a few notable roles for other filmmakers, including Xavier Giannoli’s ‘Lost Illusions’, which earned him a nomination for the César Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2022, Xavier Dolan directed his first TV series, ‘The Night Logan Woke Up.’

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Main photo: Opening ceremony Un Certain Regard 2023, credit: Joachim Tournebize