With his shock of grey hair and bright red sunglasses, Pedro Almodovar cut quite the distinctive figure as he led his jury members into their first official press conference. He was joined by actresses Jessica Chastain, Fan Bingbing and Agnès Jaoui, directors Maren Ade, Paolo Sorrentino and Park Chan-wook, and composer Gabriel Yared. Yet no member drew more cheers than Will Smith, seemingly dedicated to out-grinning Almodovar with a campaign of unstoppable charisma.
When asked about their roles on the jury, all enthusiastically professed their honour at being chosen to take part in such a process. Almodovar insisted that it was “impossible to be more lucky than I am in this current moment”, and that, after only a few meetings, they had “already become very good friends”. Chastain likewise echoed her honour at being surrounded by fellow artists, saying she hoped they would “open my mind and heart in unexpected ways”.
While many of the figures on the jury are familiar to the world of Cannes – Maren Ade and Park Chan-wook, both of whom had films in competition last year, professed their relief at being on the judging side of the panel – one jury member, it was pointed out, is not. “West Philadelphia is a long way from Cannes… I’m looking forward to leaving less dumb when I leave than I was when I came in,” said Will Smith. He went on to say that he is “looking forward to a good jury scandal” when they are locked in deliberations.
One of the main areas of scandal surrounding the 70th edition of Cannes was the inclusion of Netflix-sponsored properties, and the potential future exclusion of anything that wouldn’t receive a theatrical release. In a passionate speech, Almodovar took a strong stance on the issue, saying: “What I prefer is absolutely to be seen on a big screen”. Yet it was Smith – dominating the conference – who offered an alternate perspective: “I have a 16-year-old, an 18-year-old, a 24-year-old … and in my house, Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit. They get to see films they wouldn’t have otherwise seen.”
The jury’s deliberations will begin tomorrow, as they watch between films each day in competition for the prestigious Palme d’Or. Smith couldn’t resist the last word: “I was probably 14 years old the last time I watched three movies in one day. Three movies in a day is a lot!”
Sam Gray Photo: Stephane Cardinale – Corbi / Getty Images
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For further information about Cannes Film Festival 2017 visit here.