Cannes Film Fest Expected to Name Pierre Lescure President (Report)

Pierre Lescure - P 2013
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Pierre Lescure - P 2013

The former head of Canal Plus will reportedly take over from Gilles Jacob in 2015.

LONDON – Pierre Lescure, a co-founder and former boss of French pay-TV operator Canal Plus, is expected to be named president of the Cannes Film Festival, effective in 2015.

He would replace Gilles Jacob, who has served as the president of the annual festival on the Croisette since 2001 and previously said he would leave the post next year. According to French media reports, the appointment of Lescure, 68, could be announced this week. 

Lescure, who also used to be a journalist, will work closely with supporting festival director Thierry Fremaux, who is in charge of the artistic side of the event. He started his career at radio station RTL as a reporter and news anchor.

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French media had previously also mentioned Jerome Clement, the former president of French-German cultural network Arte and former National Cinema Center (CNC) director, as a possible lead contender for the Cannes presidency, but he recently said he couldn't be considered for the post since candidates must sit on the festival’s administrative board.

Some French observers had also suggested that director Claude Lelouch, French Academy president Alain Terzian and French Cinematheque director Serge Toubiana could be among the possible candidates.

Lescure, who served on the jury of the Deauville Film Festival this year and as its president in 2002, made his interest in the Cannes post public late last year in an interview with French newspaper Presse Ocean. "I have met a number of people from the world of cinema," he said when asked about his interest in the position. "The answer will come during the first quarter of 2014 to take the office after the next festival."

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Like Fremaux, Lescure is believed to be in favor of bringing in international talent and films, including Hollywood fare. Canal Plus, part of French media and telecom giant Vivendi, and its StudioCanal arm have long played a key role in helping finance French films. 

In 2012, Lescure supported Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande who went on to become the president of France. Culture minister Aurelie Filippetti then named him as the leader of a group that drafted recommendations for France's anti-piracy policy.

The group's report also outlined ways for the government to protect the creative industries, including a new tax on smartphones that would be distributed to filmmakers and authors.

Twitter: @georgszalai