A small circle of acquaintances

Out on the festival circuit, jurors and directors often have a history

Imagine that Bruce Willis has a film In Competition and Demi Moore is on the Festival de Cannes jury. Would this spell an unfair advantage? No doubt professional objectivity would prevail.

A comparable situation crops up this year with the inclusion on the main jury of French actress Jeanne Balibar and ex-partner Mathieu Amalric, who stars in Arnaud Desplechin's Competition title "A Christmas Tale." Balibar, who has two children with Amalric, starred in Desplechin's 1996 film "My Sex Life … or How I Got Into an Argument," which unspooled here In Competition.

"Christmas," an ensemble piece about a family dealing with a child's terminal illness, also stars Chiara Mastroianni, who was the lead voice in the 2007 Competition title "Persepolis," directed by another member of this year's jury, Marjane Satrapi.

With some already heralding Desplechin's film as a strong contender for top honors, the whisper on the Croisette is that the jury might have been packed to improve the chances for the first French winner of the Palme d'Or since 1987, when Maurice Pialat won with "Under Satan's Sun."

"The jury's made to measure," one veteran industry insider said.

But others might cite the potential for favoritism on the part of jury president Sean Penn toward the Clint Eastwood entry "Changeling." Penn won an Oscar for his role in the Eastwood-helmed "Mystic River," which played here In Competition in 2003.

"Of course it's a concern," said Marie-Pierre Hauville, the festival's director of communications. "Jury members must not have any strong links to a film In Competition. This certainly would have been raised with Thierry Fremaux to assure that they can remain artistically objective.

"The jury is the alchemy of a group of people, and to prevail with an argument you must convince the other eight." (partialdiff)
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