Cannes Film Festival Director Thierry Fremaux Ends Departure Rumors

Thierry Fremaux

"I am continuing to say ‘yes’ to the world’s greatest film festival," he says in a blog post after rumors of an exit emerged last week.

Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Fremaux will stay with the fest, he said in a blog post over the weekend that he updated further on Monday morning.

Fremaux's statement follows several days of speculation that he might exit his role as Cannes festival programmer after a local blog in the city of Lyon, his hometown, said that he had been offered a lucrative private-sector position.

In his response, Fremaux said the rumor that he had been offered a private-sector job was “accurate,” but stated that he has declined and will stay with the festival.

“After long reflection, I have decided not to accept [the offer] and retain my function at Cannes, as well as the Institute Lumiere in Lyon, serving the public, artists and film professionals from around the world,” he wrote.

Fremaux joined the festival in 2001 and became general delegate in 2007. In that role, he oversees the event's selections and other artistic aspects, including director and studio relations. He is largely credited with strengthening the fest's relationship with Hollywood since he began his tenure.

Fremaux served alongside Gilles Jacob, who had been CEO of the festival since 1977 before becoming president in 2001, until his retirement in 2014. Jacob was replaced by former Canal Plus head Pierre Lescure.

In addition to being the general delegate and artistic director of Cannes, Fremaux also heads up the film library Institute Lumiere in Lyon, as well as the classic film festival there, which he founded in 2009. That fest has presented career honors to directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese in recent years.

“Even if it is with some regret that I turn down the opportunity that has been offered to me, it is with full confidence in the future of public cultural action that I remain faithful to my commitments,” wrote Fremaux. "I would like to express my deep gratitude to those who have done me the honor to believe I could support them in their endeavors. I am not saying ‘no’ to them, but I am continuing to say ‘yes’ to the world’s greatest film festival, and it is my desire to continue to work towards its promising future."

He finished by thanking those who have offered him counsel in making the decision, among them Lescure, director and Lumiere Film Festival co-founder Bertrand Tavernier and National Cinema Center president Frederique Bredin.

As previously announced, director George Miller will be the president of this year’s Cannes jury. The festival is set to run May 11-22.

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