Dark Rooms, Bans and Bolshy Women: How The Cannes Jury Choose The Palme d'Or Winner
Stephen Frears remains confident he arrived at the correct Palme d'Or winner in 2007.
What it's like to sit on the jury at the Cannes Film Festival and have the power to present the director of the very best movie with the prestigious Palme d'Or? This year, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz bring a touch of Hollywood A-list glamor to the event and will spent 10 days in darkened screening rooms debating each of the movies in competition.
British director Stephen Fears headed the jury in 2007, when he and his team chose Romanian movie 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days as the Palme d'Or winner ahead of the Coen's No Country For Old Men, David Fincher's Zodiac, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. "They were very anti-American, the jury. But I kept saying that American films are watched all over the world. This cut no ice with a few bolshy women on the jury," Frears told the BBC ahead of the Festival this week, "I don't know, you try and behave sensibly. I hear all those stories about people manipulating things, but there didn't seem to be any of that. There were no orders from above - nobody tried to interfere, but there were a few basic rules which you had to follow," he added.
Sitting in a darkened room and watching the very best movies of the year before anyone else sounds pretty fantastic right? "...you're terrified of is going to sleep," said Frears, "...so I had coffee brought to me to stay awake - it was manageable. I didn't write notes but I had a friend with me and she and I would discuss the film afterwards." On whether he still recognised that he had chosen the best movie in competition, Frears was unequivocal, saying, "Oh yes, it was a wonderful, original film. I'm sure it benefitted from winning, it was a very accessible film. I'm sure if you spoke to distributors, I'm sure they would say Michael Haneke's film [2012 Palme d'Or and Oscar-winner] Amour has done really well."
This year, Spielberg, Kidman and co have the unenviable task of picking between the likes of the Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis, Michael Gray's The Immigrant, Steven Soderbergh's Behind The Candelabra, Alexander Payne's Nebraska and Only God Forgives directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.