The Cannes Film Festival announced Thursday that Greta Gerwig, director of summer blockbuster “Barbie”, will preside over the jury at its 77th edition in May.
The 40-year-old Gerwig, also an actor and screenwriter, takes the baton from Sweden’s Ruben Ostlund, whose jury awarded the 2023 Palme d’Or to courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall”.
She is the first American woman filmmaker to take on the role, the festival said in a statement.
Gerwig’s presence will provide a youthful flair to Cannes, which has not had such a young president since 1966, when it was led by then-31-year-old Sophia Loren.
She is also the first woman since actor Cate Blanchett in 2018 to assume the prestigious position, where men remain over-represented.
“I love films — I love making them, I love going to them, I love talking about them,” Gerwig said in a statement.
“As a cinephile, Cannes has always been the pinnacle of what the universal language of movies can be”.
Aside from “Barbie”, a vivid feminist satire about the all-conquering line of plastic dolls, Gerwig has also directed “Lady Bird” (2017) and “Dr March’s Daughters” (2020).
She is currently working on an adaptation of “The Chronicles of Narnia” for Netflix.
The festival described Gerwig, who has starred in more than two dozen films, as a heroine for modern times who has rattled the status quo.
“This is an obvious choice, since Greta Gerwig so audaciously embodies the renewal of world cinema,” said Cannes boss Iris Knobloch and festival delegate Thierry Fremaux
“Beyond the seventh art, she is also the representative of an era that is breaking down barriers and mixing genres, and thereby elevating the values of intelligence and humanism,” they added.
In announcing a high-profile woman director, the world’s largest film festival stole back the spotlight from its younger competitor, February’s Berlinale.
The festival in the German capital on Monday announced its own jury president, 40-year-old Mexican-Kenyan actor Lupita Nyong’o, the first black person named to the role.
In choosing Gerwig, Cannes is also highlighting its continued ties with the powerful American film industry.
The Cannes Film Festival has yet to unveil the rest of the jury or the films in the official selection.