Entertainment

Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu to head Cannes Film Festival jury

Birdman and 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will head the jury at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in May, becoming the first Mexican to do so, organizers said on Wednesday.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, director of The Revenant, Birdman and Babel, has been chosen to helm this year's Cannes Film Festival jury. (Chris Pizello/The Associated Press)

Birdman and 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will head the jury at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in May, becoming the first Mexican to do so, organizers said on Wednesday.

Inarritu, 55, won the best director award in Cannes in 2006 for Babel, a film with a web of narratives spanning three continents and exploring cultural prejudices.

He also won back-to-back best director Oscars in 2014 and 2015, for Birdman, a black comedy about a washed-up actor starring Michael Keaton, and The Revenant, which featured Leonardo DiCaprio as a bear trapper battling the elements in the wilderness.

Organizers cited Carne y Arena (Flesh and Sand) — a virtual reality project showing life as an immigrant and presented by Inarritu at Cannes in 2017 — as a recent highlight of work he has launched in France.

A baker from El Salvador, left, and filmmaker Alejandro Inarritu are seen working together on a motion capture shoot for his VR project Carne y Arena. (Chachi Ramirez)

"Cannes embraces all types of cinema, and through the presence of... Babel's director, it is Mexican cinema that the Festival will be celebrating," organizers including Pierre Lescure, president of the Festival de Cannes, said in a statement.

Lescure, announcing the choice on Wednesday, praised Inarritu as a "daring filmmaker ... full of surprises" and an "artist of his time."

In a statement, Inarritu called the appointment "a true delight and a responsibility that we will assume with passion and devotion."

The Cannes festival, he said, is the heart of world cinema.

Other jury members for the 72nd edition of the festival, which runs from May 14 to 25, will be announced at a later date.

Inarritu succeeds Australian actress Cate Blanchett as jury head. Last year the festival's top award, the Palme d'Or, went to Shoplifters by Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu.

Inarritu is among a trio of Mexican film directors who have risen to global prominence in recent years, alongside Alfonso Cuaron, who won this year's best director Oscar for Roma, and Guillermo del Toro, whose feature The Shape of Water won the best picture Oscar in 2018.

Inarritu, from left, is seen with fellow Mexican filmmakers Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. (Samir Hussein/Getty Images)

With files from the Associated Press

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