What to Expect From 2011 Cannes Jury (Cannes)

8:20 AM PST 05/11/2011 by Scott Roxborough
Ian Gavan/Getty Images

A mainstream title could have the edge with a Robert De Niro-led group that includes Uma Thurman, Jude Law and Hong Kong director Johnnie To.

Last Cannes, Tim Burton and his jury gave the Palme d’Or to Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s sublime but decidedly avant-garde Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

One look at the nine-member jury this year and a betting man would put money on a mainstream title to take the Palme. Three Hollywood stars and two of Asia’s most successful filmmakers would seem like a stacked deck. But every jury has a few wildcards and this year is no exception. So before you start taking odds, check out The Hollywood Reporter’s Cannes juror tip sheet.
Meet the Jury

Trying to predict who’ll take home the Palme d’Or based on this year’s Competition judges? Bonne chance.

Robert De Niro -- The Godfather
The two-time Oscar winner, acting legend and Tribeca Film Fest founder is also a Cannes veteran. Taxi Driver tore through the Croisette, taking home the Palme d’Or and The King of Comedy was in Competition in 1983. Will he pay allegiance to those art house roots as this year’s Cannes capo or will the Meet the Parents star push for a more multiplex-friendly winner?  Whatever the final call, expect De Niro to put his stamp on Cannes 2011. And to fellow jurors a word of warning: If Bobby starts walking round the table stroking his baseball bat, maybe you should consider changing your vote.   
 
Uma Thurman -- The Star, Vol. 1
Uma Thurman’s solidly Hollywood credentials would seem to bode well for star-packed auteur efforts in the Competition line-up, including Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive or Melancholia from Lars von Trier. But The Bride from Kill Bill could also side with the Asian 3D action of Takashi Miike’s Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai.
 
Jude Law -- The Star, Vol. 2
Law’s career has stretched across all genres and styles, from Gattaca sci-fi to the period drama of The Talented Mr. Ripley to Wong Kar Wai’s melodic romance My Blueberry Nights, which opened Cannes four years ago. What’s remained constant is his devotion to the craft of acting. In 2009, the A-lister recently returned to his theatrical roots to play Hamlet in London’s West End. Expect him to reward outstanding individual performances – think Sean Penn in Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must Be the Place or Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin from director Lynne Ramsay.
 
Olivier Assayas -- The Auteur
The French director has embraced both European and Asian cinema in his expansive oeuvre, which stretches from the Tokyo-set Demonlover to 70s Euro-terrorist epic Carlos, arguably the highlight of last year’s Cannes. His catholic tastes make him a hard juror to handicap. He was a member of the Venice Film Fest jury in 1994, which split the prize between Ming-liang Tsai’s Taiwanese love story Vive L’Amour and Milcho Macheviski’s Bosnia war drama Before the Rain.

Johnnie To -- Action Man
Cannes put the international spotlight on Hong Kong director Johnnie To when his Breaking News debuted here in 2004. Since then, he’s been a Croisette regular, screening four films in five years, most recently the amnesia revenge tale Vengeance in 2009. The “Jerry Bruckheimer of Hong Kong” loves his action, so that’s good news for Drive and Hara-Kiri. But To has an affinity for — and debt to — the French industry [he even cast aging French rocker Johnny Hallyday as the lead in Vengence], meaning he might be swayed by the Francophone titles in this year’s line up: Radu Mihaileanu’s The Source, Bertrand Bonello’s L'apollonide, Boy with a Bike from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne or even Aki Kaurismaki’s French-flavored dark comedy Le Havre.
 
Martina Gusman -- Productora y Actriz

Argentinan Martina Gusman has managed the balancing act of lead actress and executive producer for some of South America’s most compelling art house features, many of them with director Paplo Trapero, including Cannes Competition entry Lion’s Den and the Un Certain Regard title Carancho. Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In is the only Latino title in the running this year. Almodovar’s mix of art house sensibilities with audience-pleasing style fits Gusman like a glove.
 
Nansun Shi -- Action Woman
Co-founder, with husband Tsui Hark of Hong Kong’s Film Workshop, Nansun Shi has been the force behind some of Asia’s most successful action thrillers, notably Infernal Affairs, remade by Martin Scorcese as the Oscar-winning The Departed. Her best-known films are genre-heavy, but Shi has done everything from comedy to horror, and could be this year’s wildcard juror.
 
Linn Ullmann -- The Writer and The Daughter

The daughter of Swedish film legends Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman [winner of Cannes Palme de Palmes as Best Director of All Time], Linn Ullmann has long emerged from her parents’ shadows to become one of Scandinavia’s most respected authors. Her literary bent could bode well for Sleeping Beauty from Australian novelist-turned-director Julia Leigh.
 
Mahamat Saleh Haroun -- The Social Conscience
Haroun has focused on conditions in his native Chad in features like Daratt and last year’s A Screaming Man, which won Cannes’ Jury Prize. Karuismaki’s Le Havre, which focuses on a man trying to help an immigrant child in the French port city, may echo with Haroun, who came to France himself as a refugee in 1980.

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