The jury for the competition category of the 70th edition of Cannes Film Festival is announced. Indian personages have often received the prestigious prospect to judge; however, the present edition has none!
The Cannes Film Festival has announced that under the presidency of the Spanish director, screenwriter and producer, Pedro Almodóvar, the jury for the 70th Festival de Cannes will be constituted of eight key figures from the 7th Art (how the French address cinema), coming from all over the world. The Cannes jury for 2017 will have four women and four men along with Pedro Almodóvar to select and recognise the best films in the competition category.
The 2017 jury will have names such as Maren Ade (Director, Screenwriter, Producer – Germany), Jessica Chastain (Actress, Producer – United States), Fan Bingbing (Actress, Producer – China), Agnès Jaoui (Actress, Screenwriter, Director, Singer – France), Park Chan-wook (Director, Screenwriter, Producer – South Korea), Will Smith (Actor, Producer, Musician – United States), Paolo Sorrentino (Director, Screenwriter – Italy), Gabriel Yared (Composer – France) along with Pedro Almodóvar, the Spanish auteur as the President.
The winners will be announced on Sunday, May 28, at the Closing Ceremony, following which the Palme d’Or will be awarded in the presence of the winning team.
Un Certain Regard
Uma Thurman, the American actress, known for her iconic roles in films such as Pulp Fiction will preside over the Un Certain Regard Jury for this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Headed by Robert De Niro since 2011, Thurman will have the pleasure and responsibility to watch the films from all around the world as the new president. In a career spanning more than 20 years, the American actress has made some daring choices and enjoyed taking risks. She made her debut aged 17, in Stephen Frears’ Dangerous Liaisons and in Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. She became Quentin Tarantino’s muse, playing in Pulp Fiction (Palme d’or winner, 1994) and in Kill Bill (volumes 1 & 2), both presented at the Festival de Cannes. The Un Certain Regard Jury is liable to decide on the second competition at the festival after the competition section, as the programme aims to showcase cinematic works which offer a unique perspective and aesthetic. The prize list will be revealed on Saturday, May 27.
Seven Indian jury members at Cannes
Indian filmmakers and dignified personalities from the movie-business have not so often got the chance to chair a jury seat at the Cannes Film Festival. While Chetan Anand, the mind behind India’s first Cannes victory (Neecha Nagar) was the first Indian to be invited as the member of the jury in 1950, it took almost the next millennium for an Indian woman to be able to judge the art of cinema at the French Riviera. Aishwarya Rai was the first Indian actress to attend the Cannes as a jury member in 2003.
In 1982, Mrinal Sen got the invitation to be a part of the international jury. Sharmila Tagore was named as one of the members of the international jury in 2009. Gitanjali Rao, the animation filmmaker from Mumbai, was on the jury at 2011 Cannes Critic’s Week short films. Later, the festival had judges such as Vidya Balan as a part of the jury that was headed by Steven Speilberg in 2013. Actor-director Nandita Das was also selected as a jury member for the short film category in the same year.
Mrinal Sen’s Cannes connection
Mrinal Sen was a regular visitor at all the major film festivals, but, he had a different equation with this French film fiesta. Sen is about to turn 94 this year and his son Kunal Sen, who has always been a close follower of his father at the Cannes, in the later years, shared some glorious memories with India&You. “Since his birthday happens to be on May 14, he spent many of his birthdays at Cannes,” Kunal wrote on an email, adding, “He never celebrated his birthdays, but one year, his friends decided to throw him a big rooftop party at Cannes, with fireworks and all. Even though he was a little embarrassed by all that attention, I remember both my parents being so excited when they described the event after their return to Calcutta.” Mrinal Sen’s Kharij won the Special Jury Award in 1983.
Judging a festival of this stature has always been a pleasure for Sen, whose films have received critical acclaim from France more than once. Kunal Sen, speaking about one of the most favourite anecdotes that his father would reiterate a lot about Cannes, describes, “He visited Cannes many times, both to show his films, as well as a member of the jury, and he always came back energised and inspired. One friendship that he particularly cherished was formed while he served in the Cannes jury in 1982. Gabriel Garcia Marquez was also a member of the jury that year, and they formed a very close bond. Later, they spent an extended time at a film school in Havana. In 1982, he came back from Cannes with a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Later that year, on October 21 (I remember the date because it was my birthday) we came to know that Marquez had won the Nobel Prize in literature!”
Kunal Sen goes on to describe his father’s passion for Cannes. “In 2010, Cannes decided to show his film Khandhar in the Cannes Classics section. He was already 87 years old and frail. I could see that he very much wanted to go to Cannes one last time, but my mother was too ill to travel with him, and she didn’t want him to travel that far on his own,” Kunal Sen expressed.
Incidentally, it was 2009, when Mrinal Sen’s ‘Kolkata’ trilogy was called off from the Retrospective Section. The three iconic films Calcutta 71, Padatik and Interview were slated to be screened that year. However, the prints of these films were in compromising condition and that led to the situation. Next year, the print of Khandhar was revived and the Cannes Classic section screened it.
Kunal Sen continues, “Me and my wife decided to accompany him. We flew from Chicago to Frankfurt to receive him. We rested there for a couple of days and then we all went to Cannes. That was May 14 (his 87th birthday), and we had a wonderful dinner with few of his closest friends. Though none of us said it, we all knew that this will be the last time for him at Cannes, and it was a beautiful and emotional evening for all of us around the table.”