Greta Gerwig, actor, writer and film director, notably for the blockbuster “Barbie,” will preside over the jury of the 77th Cannes Film Festival in May, the first American female director to be named jury president, the festival announced Thursday.
At 40, Gerwig is also the youngest person to take on that role since Sofia Loren, who headed the Cannes jury in 1966 at age 31, the festival noted in a statement.
“I’m overwhelmed, enthusiastic and touched with humility,” the statement quoted Gerwig as saying. “I can’t wait to discover what voyages await us!” She described Cannes as “the pinnacle of what the universal language of movies can be.”
Festival officials, too, were excited, about their choice for jury president for the May 14-25 festival on the French Riviera, a premiere film extravaganza.
“This is an obvious choice, since Greta Gerwig so audaciously embodies the renewal of world cinema, for which Cannes is each year both the forerunner and the sounding board,” said festival president Iris Knobloch and general delegate Thierry Frémaux.
Gerwig also marks “an era that is breaking down barriers and mixing genres, and thereby elevating the values of intelligence and humanism," they added.
One other American woman has led the Cannes jury: Olivia de Haviland in 1965. Unlike Gerwig, the actress never directed movies.
Gerwig began her career as an actress before moving into writing movies, then co-directing and finally flying solo in the director's chair, notably with “Lady Bird” in 2017 — nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Director, followed by “Little Women,” then “Barbie,” released last July. There, she transformed the famous Barbie doll into a living young woman, raucously exploring sexism and women's independence.
“An international cultural phenomenon, Barbie is the biggest success of the year and has made Greta Gerwig the most bankable female film director in history,” the statement by the Cannes Festival said.
Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund headed last year's festival.
The rest of the jury has yet to be announced. Films competing in the 2024 film festival are to be unveiled in mid-April.