The jury that will hand out the prizes for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival has been announced. It’s a venerable assortment of actors and filmmakers who have all made invaluable contributions to international cinema including Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe, Gael Garcia Bernal and Nicolas Winding Refn. They and four of their colleagues from around the world, along with the already announced jury president Jane Campion, will decide which of the eighteen films competition titles at this years’ Cannes Film Festival will take home the coveted top prize, the Palme D’Or. Many members of the 2014 jury have long ties to the festival itself.
Jury president Campion has a long established relationship with the festival, which in recent years has been criticized for the lack of female filmmakers represented in the competition line-up (including this year which includes only two films by women directors – The Marvel, from Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, and Steal the Water, from Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase.) Campion, who won an Oscar for penning the script to the 1993 feature The Piano, holds the distinction of being the only female director to ever win Cannes’ top prize (also for The Piano; although last year actors Lea Seydoux and Adelel Exarchopoulos were awarded alongside director Abdellatif Kechiche for Blue is the Warmest Color). She also won the short film Palme D’Or for her An Exercise in Discipline- Peel in 1986 and brought her films Sweetie (1989) and Bright Star (2009) to the Croisette, where they both played in competition.
Coppola also has deep ties to the festival, perhaps inherited from her father Francis Ford Coppola (who won the Palme D’Or twice for classics Apocalypse Now and The Conversation.) Her debut feature, The Virgin Suicides (2000) played in the Directors Fortnight sidebar, while her unconventional 2006 biopic Marie Antoinette played in the main competition. The filmmaker also brought The Bling Ring to Cannes just last year, which served as the opening film in the Un Certain Regard sidebar.
Dafoe, the twice Oscar nominated actor and journeyman has made many a trip to Cannes, most recently for Wes Anderson’s 2012 Moonrise Kingdom (which served as the opening night film that year) and 2009’s controversial Antichrist from director Lars von Trier.
Mexican actor Bernal is no stranger to festival either. A great many of his films have played the festival including The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), Babel (2006), and Blindness (2008), as well as the 2012 Chilean prize winner No, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Academy Award for that same year. The actor even brought his directorial debut, Déficit to the Croisette in 2007.
Refn, the Danish director who made Ryan Gosling ultra cool in 2011’s Drive brought both that film and his 2013 follow-up Only God Forgives to the festival – winning the Best Director prize for the former and receiving harsh criticism and sustained boos for the latter. The remaining members of the 2014 Cannes jury may be less familiar names stateside but are equally formidable internationally including French actress Carole Bouquet (For Your Eyes Only), Iranian actress Leila Hatami (star of Ashgar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning 2011 film A Separation), South Korean actress Jeon Do-Yeon (who became the first Korean actor to win the Best Actress prize at the Cannes for 2007’s Secret Sunshine) and Chinese director Jia Zhangki (who took home the Screenplay prize for his acclaimed drama A Touch of Sin at last years film festival.)
The line-up of this years jury is markedly a bit more international and bit more feminine than in recent years. Last year, Steven Spielberg headed the jury that consisted of notable luminaries including Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee and Christoph Waltz. They gave the top prize to, of all things, the controversial French love story Blue is the Warmest Color. We will all find out what the 2014 jury favors on May 25th.