• Festivals

Cannes Du: Ruben Östlund gets Jury Duty

Some people get a job. Others earn one. In the case of Ruben Östlund, it is clear his appointment to head up the 2023 Cannes competition jury is an honor well deserved.

A two-time winner of the festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or, including last year’s win for Triangle of Sadness, the 48-year-old Swedish filmmaker becomes the third dual winner to oversee the jury, following on the heels of Francis Ford Coppola and Emir Kusturica. It also marks fifty years since the last Swedish director was appointed to preside – the legendary Ingmar Bergman.

“I am happy, proud, and humbled to be trusted with the honor of jury president for this year’s Competition at the Festival de Cannes. Nowhere in the film world is the anticipation as strong as when the curtain rises on the films in Competition at the festival,” noted Östlund in an official festival press release. “It is a privilege to be part of it, together with the Cannes audience of connoisseurs. I am sincere when I say that cinema culture is in its most important period ever. The cinema has a unique aspect. There, we watch together, and it demands more on what is shown and increases the intensity of the experience. It makes us reflect in a different way than when we dopamine scroll in front of the individual screens.”

As to his priorities as president, Östlund notes that his primary goal will be to remind his colleagues in the jury about the social function of the cinema. “A good movie relates to the collective experience, stimulates us to think and makes us want to discuss what we have seen. So, let’s watch together!”

Since its launch in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival’s board of directors has appointed the various juries, composed of prominent international artists. Their primary responsibility is to choose which films will receive awards.

For most film festivals, the role of the jury president is typically conferred on an internationally recognized figure of cinema. However, for the first three years of the Cannes festival, that title went to Georges Huisman, a noted French politician who helped create the festival. For the next ten years, the presidency stayed in the hands of noted French authors and playwrights, including Jean Cocteau and Marcel Achard, before Belgian writer Georges Simenon became the first non-French jury president.

Beginning in the early 1960s, more prominent cinematic names have begun to assume the position, including such Academy Award winners as Olivia De Havilland, Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, Kirk Douglas, Milos Forman, Sydney Pollack, Roman Polanski, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Sean Penn, Steven Spielberg, Robert De Niro, Pedro Almodóvar and Cate Blanchett.

In 2021, Cannes selected its first Black president, Spike Lee. Not only was his appointment historic in racial terms, but it also marked the first time that women made up a majority of the competition jury – a point not lost on the media, who placed great emphasis on the fact. For juror Melanie Laurent, that emphasis was maybe a little too much.

“My dream would be for this to be the first and last festival where there is a debate about women,” she commented during a news conference at the time.

The 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will unspool May 16-27, 2023, with titles being announced in April for both competitive and out-of-competition slots.