This year’s Caméra d’Or jury will be headed by a representative of the new generation of filmmakers. Along with six fellow professionals, Swiss filmmaker Ursula Meier will select the best first film presented in the Official Selection, the Semaine de la Critique (International Critics’ Week), and the Directors’ Fortnight, as announced by the festival last week.
Meier is a filmmaker who questions the very essence of film. This undoubtedly explains her compact and exciting filmography, which includes five short films, two works for television, two documentaries, and two feature films for cinema. Inventive strokes of brilliance, each of them has been upsetting the apple cart with a fresh take and establishing her definitively on the European scene. Since 1994, Meier has compiled a bold filmography that emphasises the complexity of the world.
An unconditional admirer of the film Wanda (Barbara Loden) and the film Sweetie (Jane Campion), Meier decided to take up directing after discovering Robert Bresson’s film L’Argent. She then became assistant director to a major figure in Swiss cinema, Alain Tanner, on Fourbi (1996). Meier, who claims to be fascinated by the notion of no man’s land, has built her imagination there and manages to reach out to buried areas of human nature, filming with tenderness, without pathos or judgment, characters who are guided by a powerful survival instinct.
In 2014, she participated in the film Bridges of Sarajevo, a collective work by 13 European filmmakers, presented at Cannes in the Official Selection.
Her films for cinema—Home (2008) and Sister (2012, winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlinale)—are internationally acclaimed for their original angles and writing. Radical and poetic, the first is a fable shot with pale light and warm photography. The second is a modern tale in the form of a sober and poignant family chronicle.
“A first film,” says the newly appointed president, “is the place of all possibilities, of all audacity, of all risk-taking, of all madness. It is often said that you should not put everything into a first film, but the opposite is true, you should put in exactly that—everything—just as you should put everything into every film while always preserving deep within yourself that original, vital, brutal, wild desire of the first time. What immense excitement and joy to discover all these films!”
Meier and her jury will present the Caméra d’Or award at the closing ceremony of the Festival de Cannes on 19 May. The winning film will succeed Léonor Serraille’s Montparnasse Bienvenüe, presented in the Official Selection’s Un Certain Regard last year.
Previously, French filmmaker Bertrand Bonello was chosen as president of Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury at Cannes Film Festival to succeed Romanian director Cristian Mungiu. His critically acclaimed works reveal an acute mastery of audacity and aesthetics. Preferring perception over traditional narrative, long shots that emphasise the sensoriality of imagery, his worlds conjure up visual and sound experiences that break free of all limits. An admirer of Bresson, Pasolini, and Jarmusch, fan of the Godfather and eXistenZ, Bonello seems to gravitate instinctively towards recurrent obsessions.
It is expected that the passionate artist will therefore set an ambitious standard for the young generation of directors in the 2018 Cinéfondation and Short Films selection.
For the main competition, Oscar-winning Australian actress and anti-sexual harassment campaigner Cate Blanchett has been named head of the jury of the Cannes Film Festival this year.
Blanchett has been to Cannes in many guises over the years—as an actress, producer, in the marketplace, the gala-sphere, and in competition, but “never for the sheer pleasure of watching the cornucopia of films this great festival harbours,” as she put it.
“I am humbled by the privilege and responsibility of presiding over this year’s jury,” the 48-year-old actress previously said.
Blanchett won the Oscar for best actress for her part in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, and an Oscar for best supporting actress in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. She is the 12th woman to lead the prestigious panel at Cannes, and follows Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, who headed the 70th edition of the festival last year.
More recently, the actress has expressed support for the dozens of women who came forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
She was one of the 300 influential women in Hollywood who launched the Time’s Up movement in January, which aims at clamping down on sexual harassment and inequality in all workplaces.