This year’s Cannes jury – which selects the winners of the Palme d’Or and other competition prizes – is led by Vincent Lindon, whose supple performance in last year’s Palme winner, “Titane” , was a highlight of this movie.
The other jurors: Asghar Farhadi, who was here last year as director of “A Hero”; British actress and director Rebecca Hall; Ladj Ly, who shared the jury prize (sort of third place, honorable mention) in 2019 for directing a film called “Les Misérables”; American director Jeff Nichols; Indian actress Deepika Padukone; Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace; Joachim Trier, who directed “The Worst Person in the World” last year; and Italian actress and director Jasmine Trinca.
People like to spread rumors about what’s going on with the jury.
David Cronenberg, president of the jury in 1999, did he force his colleagues to award a unanimous Palme to “Rosetta”, screened so late in the festival that many critics did not even see it? (Cronenberg denied those rumours, and in 2014 he agreed with Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri that the Dardennes’ subsequent career — they won the Palme again in 2005 for “L’Enfant” — had shown that choice to a good one. )
Did Pedro Almodóvar, the president of the jury in 2017, really prefer the French film on the AIDS crisis “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” to that year’s winner, “The Square?” (For the record, I was at the press conference right after that awards show, and nothing Almodóvar said suggested he had anything but genuine admiration for both films.)
Part of the problem, as Cronenberg pointed out in this interview, is that journalists create a horse-racing narrative as the festival unfolds, predicting the winners, often incorrectly. And the festival essentially treats the jury members as the human equivalent of an armored truck. Good luck getting an interview with them.
Even when the jury explains its choices, such as during the closing press conference, its members generally do not speak outside the school. There are exceptions: William Goldman, in his book “Hype & Glory,” described what happened behind the scenes when he sat on the 1988 jury.
Another particular facet of the Cannes juries – which are chosen by the festival and not by the president of the jury – is that no one seems to care too much about the appearance of conflicts of interest. Sean Penn judged Clint Eastwood’s ‘Changeling’ after Eastwood steered him to an Oscar in ‘Mystic River.’ Isabelle Huppert presented the Palme to “The White Ribbon”, directed by Michael Haneke, who had worked with her on “The Piano Teacher” and “Time of the Wolf”. And Elle Fanning was a juror in 2019, judging “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” in which Elle’s sister Dakota Fanning has a supporting role. (The film left empty-handed.)