“We’re always sitting in personal private judgment of the films we see,” Steven Spielberg said Wednesday, in Wednesday’s Cannes Film Festival press conference introducing this year’s nine-person jury headed by Spielberg.
Therefore it was time, the director figured, to take it public and accept the film festival’s offer (made several times in the past, he said, though his work schedule never permitted it) to serve as the main competition jury president.
His cohorts will include actors Nicole Kidman, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Auteuil and directors Lynne Ramsay and Ang Lee. The jury selects the winners of this year’s awards for acting, screenplay, direction and, honored with the storied Palme d’Or, the award given to "Pulp Fiction," "Taxi Driver" and many others over the decades, the film of the year. Last year’s Palme winner? Michael Haneke’s "Amour."
Lee and Spielberg were both nominated for Academy Awards in direction last year. Lee won for "Life of Pi"; Spielberg, for “Lincoln,” did not. So be it, Spielberg said, with a laugh. We’re pals, he said. "He’s my hero," Lee said of Spielberg. Lee added, humbly: "I’m afraid to judge people’s movies improperly."
Speilberg noted that it’s apples and oranges to assess movies designed to get “as many people into the theaters as possible” by the same criteria as films compelled by more adventurous impulses. “Honesty” and “courage”: those will be the key attributes in the competition titles as viewed by Spielberg’s fellow juror, director Cristian Mungiu, who won the Palme in 2007 for “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.”
Spielberg last came to the Croisette in 2008 on a less high-minded mission, accompanying the out-of-competition world premiere of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Once a year, said Mr. President, “the entire world comes together at Cannes.” On May 26 the world will learn which of the Cannes competitors this year delivered what Lee phrased as “something we cannot even verbalize.”
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