June 3, 2023

Swedish director Ruben Ostlund has won the Palme d’Or twice – first for ‘The Square’ in 2017 and last year for ‘Triangle of Sadness’. This year he is the chairman of the jury that determines who gets the main prize.

Ostlund told The New York Times he planned to “take a very Swedish approach when it comes to running the jury,” adding, “It will be a democracy.”

At a press conference on Tuesday, he said the jury didn’t have many rules. “One thing is that this will be the first year in the history of the Cannes Film Festival where the publicists will not tell each other rumours,” said Ostlund.

In Ostlund’s films, which cut across class and social hypocrisy, any character who took such a vow would end up doing the opposite. But don’t expect the grand prize winner or any of the other awards to be his choice alone.

He has eight fellow jurors. Among them is French director Julia Ducournau, who has only one Palme to Ostlund’s two, who won in 2021 for her genre-bending ‘Titane’. It was, as that year’s presiding judge, Spike Lee, noted at the time, probably the first film in history where a Cadillac impregnated the heroine.

Several other judges are directors with Cannes pedigrees. Damián Szifron, from Argentina, is best known for his comic anthology ‘Wild Tales’, which was featured in competition in 2014. Zambian-born Rungano Nyoni made ‘I am Not a Witch’, an absurdist story about an orphan accused of witchcraft; it was a critics’ favorite when it played at the parallel festival Directors’ Fortnight in 2017. And last year, Moroccan filmmaker Maryam Touzani was here with ‘The Blue Caftan’, which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival.

Another jury member, Atiq Rahimi, is both a filmmaker and an author. Born in Afghanistan, Rahimi directed film adaptations of his own novels “Earth and Ashes” and “The Patience Stone”. As a book, the latter won the Goncourt Prize, France’s most prestigious literary award.

Cannes always likes to have a bit of Hollywood star power in its juries, and this year American actors Brie Larson and Paul Dano deliver it.

There was a tense moment during Tuesday’s press conference, when a Variety reporter asked Larson if she wanted to watch the festival’s opening film, “Jeanne du Barry,” starring Johnny Depp, as she has long been a supporter of #TimesUp.

“Are you asking me?” said Larson, hissing. When she pressed the issue, she replied, “You’ll see, I think, when I see it.” And I don’t know how I’ll feel about it if I do.

Rounding out the jury’s theatrical contingent is French actor Denis Ménochet, recently seen as a disturbed veteran in ‘Beau Is Afraid’.

At the press conference, Ostlund said: “If I could choose between an Oscar and a Palme d’Or, it would be an easy choice. I’d rather have one more than an Oscar.”

Kyle Buchanan reporting contributed.