Penn to head Cannes festival jury

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PARIS -- Sean Penn will head the jury at the 61st annual Festival de Cannes, set to take place from May 14-25, organizers announced Thursday.

Penn will venture "Into the Wild" of the French Riviera town after accepting the invitation from the fest's Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux. Penn's own "Into the Wild" hits Gallic theaters Wednesday.

"In the last few years, it seems there has been a rejuvenation of cinema building worldwide; increasingly thoughtful, provocative, moving, and imaginative films by talented filmmakers: that a new generation of filmmaking may have begun. The Cannes Film Festival has long been the epicenter in the discovery of those new waves of filmmakers from all over the world. I very much look forward to participating in this year's festival as president of the jury," Penn said upon accepting his duty.

The actor-director is no stranger to the Croisette, having previously won the best male performance prize at the 1997 festival for Nick Cassavetes' "She's So Lovely."

The actor presented his first film as writer, director and producer, "The Indian Runner" at the 1991 Festival de Cannes and has come to town to present "The Pledge" and Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River."
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