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The Jury Press Conference at the Cannes Film Festival

The press conference of the 75th Cannes Film Festival took place on the 17th May at the Palais des Festivals to introduce the eight jurors set to judge this set of film nominees. Heading the panel, Vincent Lindon; French actor and filmmaker who won Best Actor at the previous 2015 Cannes Film Festival and has starred in a multitude of other films. He took over the seat of the jury president from cool Spike Lee who graced the seat last year.

During the press conference Lindon drew attention to the celebratory nature of this festival; returning to some normality in the wake of the previous two years and inability to celebrate in the same fashion owing to the pandemic, and noted the huge responsibility that came with his role, particularly considering the current state of world affairs; 

We cannot completely put aside the time we’re living through. Of course it might have a bit of an unconscious effect on the way we look at the films. Some of them are very closely related to those issues and others are further away. We will steel ourselves to remain worthy, for the people whose days are more difficult than ours.”

The key conduct Lindon took to assessing and judging the films was; “like children; to watch the films, and listen with my heart before thinking with my brain”.

Vincent Lindon at the photo call at the Cannes Film Festival

Vincent Lindon at the photo call at the Cannes Film Festival

Additional Jury members include British actress and director Rebecca Hall, whose debut Passing premiered at the 2021 Sundance Festival. Creative engagement and a continual process of learning through watching the nominated films is a notion that the director spoke of. When posed with the question of whether or not the Jury held adequate gender equality, Hall responded with saying that she thought the panel well balanced, but that the representation of women and other minorities in film and directing is an ongoing issue and continues active engagement and awareness to improve.

Deepika Padukone, Indian actress, entrepreneur and philanthropist with more than 30 films to her name, famed for starring alongside Vin Diesel in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, sat also on the panel. She, like Lindon, too spoke of the need to release the pressure and responsibility of judging and instead to enjoy the experience. “We promised ourselves when we arrived not to feel overwhelmed by the responsibility. But it is true that the cinema is such a powerful tool. It can influence people’s lives. We are not here to judge the films or criticise them. The most important thing is to enjoy them.”

Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone

Noomi Rapace from Sweden stole hearts (and left viewers quaking in their boots) with her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish adaptations of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  film trilogy. Noomi applauded the three Swedish directors holding films nominated within the festival, highlighting representation and advancements for the Swedish film industry; “our industry is getting braver”. She was the only Jury member brave enough to answer the question of the ongoing worldwide war crisis, commenting that “the power of films is magical. Films are emotional oxygen for even the loneliest bubble. Films can travel and communicate and are in this time, more important than ever”.

Noomi Rapace

Noomi Rapace

Jasmine Trinca, Italian actress and director earned the Jury award for Best Performance in 2017 for her role in Sergio Castellitto’s Fortunata. She personally debuted as an actress 21yrs prior at the festival, and when asked how her role in Nanni Moretti’s Cannes award winning La Chambre du Fils in 2001 impacted her life, she said “my career began in Cannes when I was 18 years old. My life before that was very different, my life changed so much afterwards. I came to Cannes and discovered the very glamorous side of things. I’ve grown up together with the festival”.

Asghar Farhadi is a director, producer and screenwriter, Elly winning the Silver Bear for Best Director in Berlin in 2009. A Separation went on to become a sensation in 2011, winning prizes worldwide and even acclaiming an Oscar; the first ever film produced by an Iranian director to win an Oscar. A portion of the conference covered Farhadi being sued by a former student who claimed his 2021 film A Hero plagiarised her own documentary, and is the first time he has publicly spoken about the subject, denying any form of plagiarisation. 

“A lot of information published in the newspapers was incorrect. I think we need to rectify the situation in light of the correct information; I saw her documentary at a workshop and spoke with the student. Much later, I created my film A Hero which cannot be viewed as plagiarisation. What we do is to make fiction films, and A Hero was based on a current event that happened two years prior to the workshop. When an event takes place and is covered by the press, it becomes public knowledge and you can do what you like with the event. You can write a story or make a film about the event without one being a copy of the other”.

Ladj Ly, French director, screenwriter, actor and producer is known for his take of Les Misérables, a short feature film which won a Jury Prize at the Cannes Festival in 2019. He highlighted the openings up a film nomination that the Cannes Film Festival brought with it; knowing all too well from past experience and spoke of how humbled he was to have climbed the ladder to establish a seat on the Jury of his own. “The fact you get an award in Cannes is an amazing experience and now I’m a member of the Jury I feel hugely proud and deeply honoured. This gives hope to young people; you can start at the bottom of the ladder and go up rung by rung”.

Jess Nichols, American director and screenwriter is famed for numerous films including Shotgun Stories 2007, Mud 2012 and Loving, produced in 2016. When asked how representation might affect his judging (focussing on race), Nichols responded by saying that “filmmaking and shared stories are innately human, and I think it is our job to respond to these films as humans and to take the emotion they give and to assess how it affects us. I can’t imagine as a jury as diverse and thoughtful as this one is, that we won’t land on every topic that humanity struggles with”.

Joachim Trier, Norwegian director and screenwriter whose accomplishments include Reprise 2006, Oslo, August 31st 2011, and The Worst Person in the World 2021. Trier’s speciality is Arthouse Cinema, viewing film as means to allow individuals to empathise and learn from on-screen stories. “Cannes for me represents a very sophisticated approach to cinema, to storytelling on the big screen”.

12 days the Jury now have to sequester themselves ahead of the award ceremony on the 28th May, keeping all sentiments, opinions and judgements amongst themselves before the final selection.

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