Cannes: Nadine Labaki Named Un Certain Regard Jury President

Mackenzie Stroh
Nadine Labaki

The festival said she moved "hearts and minds at the last Festival de Cannes with her Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated 'Capernaum,' which won the Jury Prize in Cannes."

Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki, whose Capernaum was nominated in the best foreign-language film category at the Academy Awards this year, will head up this year's jury of the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival.

The festival unveiled the director as head of the sidebar jury Tuesday.

"After moving hearts and minds at the last Festival de Cannes with her Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated Capernaum, which won the Jury Prize in Cannes, Lebanese director Nadine Labaki will be taking over from actor Benicio Del Toro as president of the Un Certain Regard Jury for the 72nd edition of the festival," organizers said.

Labaki has long-running ties to the French festival. After graduating in audiovisual studies from the University of Beirut, she directed commercials and music videos. In 2004, she embarked on a residency at the Cannes festival's Cinefondation, which runs a student and short-film section, to write and develop Caramel, her first feature film, which is about the intersecting lives of five Lebanese women and was showcased at the festival's Directors' Fortnight in 2007.

Her second film, Where Do We Go Now?, was a fable on tolerance that premiered at the Un Certain Regard section in 2011. Finally, Capernaum, about a streetwise Lebanese boy who sues his parents in protest of the life they have given him, was selected for the Cannes competition lineup.

"I remember back when I used to come to Cannes as a film student, I was so excited to experience the world's most prestigious festival," said Labaki. "Back then, it seemed so out of reach to me. I remember getting up early in the morning and the endless queues to get a ticket. It seems like yesterday, but it was 15 years ago that I filled in the Festival de Cannes' Cinefondation (film and short film section) registration form, my heart full of hope and my hand shaking."

Added the director: "Today, I am the president of the Un Certain Regard Jury, which just goes to show that sometimes life can be even better than your dreams. I can't wait to see the films in the selection. I can't wait to debate and discuss, to be shaken up, to find inspiration in other artists' work."