It was brief, but interesting. The Cannes jury members, led by presidents Ethan and Joel Coen, held a press conference on opening day to explain their love for cinema and what jury duty at the world’s biggest film festival entails.
The moderator introduced each jury member with a brief bio — ladies first: Rossy De Palma, Sienna Miller, Sophie Marceau and Rokia Traoré, Jake Gyllenhaal, Guillermo Del Toro and Xavier Dolan. So what were their reactions when they were asked to join the jury?
- Rossy De Palma couldn’t keep her cool: “I just went aaaah!” she said holding her head as if to keep it from falling off from the excitement.
- Composer Rokia Traoré was more level-headed: “I do an artistic job that touches on cinema.”
- Guillermo Del Toro: “Thierry [Frémaux, Delegate General of the Festival] had called me three or four times previously to be part of the jury, but I always said I’d have to lose weight first to fit in a tuxedo and show myself to the public. But since there’s no hope for me to lose weight anymore and I had nothing in production or post-production, I seized the opportunity.”
- Sienna Miller: “It’s a great responsibility and huge honor to see and judge works of art.”
- Ethan Coen: “[Joel and I] talked with Thierry about our role here.”
The Coen Brothers — or les frères Coen, as they say here — were asked a variety of questions, such as their thoughts on mobile films.
- Ethan Coen: “”There’s something about watching films on a big screen with a bunch of people. Nothing can replace that.”
As for television series becoming as creative, if not more, than films?
- Ethan Coen: “I haven’t watched TV in decades. It’s not that we don’t like it, it’s just not my thing, never been my thing.”
The Coens seem to have this romanticized reputation of disliking mainstream cinema. Would they ever award the Palme d’Or to an action movie?
- Joel Coen: “What’s an action movie? Have there been any action films in competition in Cannes before? It depends on how you define action. I don’t see why an action film couldn’t be in competition.”
Does a director or actor watch films differently when he’s on jury duty?
- Joel Coen: “When I watch a movie, I try to watch it like any other spectator. There’s an emotional aspect to that. Here, they’re asking us to watch it with members of the jury. I’ve never been part of a jury before… We’re not here to be film critics. We’re here to see which films we liked most, the films that we all agree on. The jury members are not film critics… I’d rather not go into my thoughts about film critics.” Ouch.
- Xavier Dolan: “For me, being in the jury is a new experience. I’m here for jury duty. My job is not to say that one film is better than another, that it’s good or bad. It’s to declare what moves me.”
- Guillermo Del Toro: When I first came here, I knew it was a competition. When I was at the Directors’ Fortnight, I found out what competition was. As a director, you want to stand out. We have to take our job as jury members very seriously, because these films deserve all of our attention. I’m here to learn, to be part of a jury with people I admire and respect, and I hope to go back home enriched.”
The Festival’s giant poster featuring Ingrid Bergman cut an imposing figure behind them. The late Swedish actress, who will be honored at the Festival by her daughter Isabella Rossellini, continues to inspire:
- Jake Gyllenhaal: “I’m Swedish. I deeply hope I’m related to her somehow in some capacity. My mom asked me to bring back a poster. My mom’s not Swedish, my dad is!”
- Rossy De Palma: “I know her daughter and granddaughter. She was an extraordinary woman.”
- Sophie Marceau: “It’s like she’s with us today. There’s a lot of hope in her eyes. That’s the magic of cinema.”
- Sienna Miller: “I’ve always loved her. She was an inspiration as an actress.”
- Guillermo Del Toro: “She is dissociable from Hitchcock. She was luminous. She’s still with us… She could play any role, even the most boring role, and still be good. She was a powerful actress.”
- Xavier Dolan: “My knowledge of film is limited. I know about the legend, but only in a superficial manner. Nice smile though!”
With two presidents of the jury, we like to imagine there’s a Team Joel and a Team Ethan. Jake Gyllenhaal confirms: “For now, some people are on Joel’s side and others on Ethan’s side.”
The deliberations should be interesting over the next 12 days.