Cannes Film Fest 2019: Jury President Inarritu Emphasizes Theatrical Exhibition and Cummunal Experience

Two-time Oscar winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who is the Jury President of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, reaffirmed today the importance of theatrical exhibition–despite (or because of) the growing importance of Netflix and other other streaming platforms.

“The state of cinema is very powerful,” he said at the first Cannes jury press conference. “What is at stake is the way we are experiencing it.  Cinema was born to be a communal experience. I have nothing against watching on a phone, an iPad, a computer. But one does not cancel another. Netflix has been doing a great job capitalizing on the lack of these international films around the world. But why not give people the choice to experience cinema?”

Cannes has become a space for the film industry to hash out its biggest challenges, from the emergence of streaming media to the lack of gender parity. When the jury’s four women were asked about the role of women in cinema and at Cannes, some seemed to be tiring of the question.

Women on the Jury

“People keep asking us what’s it like being a woman director and I’m pleased to see that we’re well represented here,” said Italian director Alice Rohrwacher. “But it’s a bit like asking someone who’s survived a shipwreck why he’s still alive. Well, ask the person who built the boat.”

After joking that “this is the first time I haven’t tried to get out of jury duty,” American director Kelly Reichardt agreed. “I’m looking forward to the time when we come and we don’t have to say ‘the women directors’,” she said.

Elle Fanning, who at 21 is the youngest person on the jury, spoke about bringing a generational perspective to the deliberations. “I was in complete shock when I got that phone call if I wanted to be a member of the Cannes jury,” Fanning said. “I’m still feeling that buzz. I feel proud to represent a young voice in this festival and view the movies from those eyes.”

When asked about his leadership role in the deliberations, Inarritu said. “I don’t know how it’s gonna work,” he said. “I have never controlled anything, not my sets, not my family, anything. I think we will have an intense, passionate vote.”

International Flavor

The other members of the jury are Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, Senegalese actress Maimouna N’Diaye, Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski, French comic book creator and director Eric Bilal and Moroccan writer-director Robin Campillo.

Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, starring Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Adam Driver and Bill Murray, kicks off the Cannes competition Tuesday night.

The 72nd Cannes festival runs May 14 through May 25.