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Cannes: Oscar Rivals Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee Bury Hatchet for Jury Duty

Ang Lee

“He's my hero,” Ang Lee says of Jury president Steven Spielberg “I worship him.”

This year's hard-fought Oscar campaign between Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee won't interfere with the directors deliberations as they judge which film will win the 2013 Palme d'Or.

Lee, who beat Spielberg to take the Best Director Oscar for Life of Pi, heaped praise on his Academy Award rival and this year's jury president.

“Steven and I are good friends. I don't know how he feels about me but I worship him,” Lee said at the jury press conference in Cannes Wednesday. “He's my hero."

Spielberg concurred, saying he and Lee “have never been competitors, we have always been colleagues. And that will just continue. And I worship Life of Pi so therefore I worship Ang Lee as well."

But Spielberg did admit he was glad running the Cannes jury would not involve vying for the favor of an academy of voters.

“We are going to be watching movies and caucusing and deliberating a final result or results,” he said. “There is no campaigning here and that is a breath of fresh air for me."

The members of the jury gave a few hints as to to how they planned to judge Cannes' 2013 lineup, suggesting that cutting-edge fare could prevail over more mainstream films. 

“I'm looking for a film with a certain kind of courage and honesty (something) that tries to extend the limits of the art,” said Romanian director Christian Mungiu, who won Cannes' Palme d'Or with his first film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

“I want to discover with my fellow jury members those films that will go down in history,” agreed French actor and director Daniel Auteuil while Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase promised to “send a message” to the world with her decision.

Alluding to the expected difficulties in trying to deliberate between the jury's nine very different members, Spielberg joked he was going to go back and re-watch Sidney Lumet's courthouse classic 12 Angry Men.

“I'm going to use it as a tutorial to prepare for the final day of deliberations,” he said.