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Cannes Jury President Steven Spielberg Admits to Not Being Familiar With All Directors Up for Palme d'Or

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire May 15, 2013 at 11:47AM

This year's Cannes jury president, Steven Spielberg, used the admittedly pointless 'meet the jury' press conference to make one thing clear. "I didn't say no a thousand times," he said after being asked why he finally accepted the invitation. "I've been so consistently at work in the spring time that every time I've been asked, I've been busy working."
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Eric Kohn Steven Spielberg at Cannes jury press conference

This year's Cannes jury president, Steven Spielberg, used the admittedly pointless "meet the jury" press conference to make one thing clear. "I didn't say no a thousand times," he said after being asked why he finally accepted the invitation. "I've been so consistently at work in the spring time that every time I've been asked, I've been busy working."

With Spielberg heading the 2013 jury, it's no big surprise that this year's members are among one of the most esteemed and eclectic to ever grace La Croisette, with the likes of Nicole Kidman and Ang Lee (whom Spielberg confessed to worshiping) brushing shoulders with Indian star Vidya Balan and Romanian Palme d'Or winner Cristian Mungiu. The entire group, also comprised of Lynne Ramsay, Naomi Kawase, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Auteuil, all took part in the conference, but, as expected, Spielberg was the center of attention.

"I see this as two weeks of celebrating film, not two weeks of putting films against one another."

The Oscar-winning filmmaker, who revealed that the jury had dined the night before in Cannes to talk film and get properly acquainted, said that he doesn't see other filmmakers' work as competition to his own, but that has no qualms about presiding over the jury.

"I think that we're always judging and we're always reserving private judgment of movies," he said. "I've always just accepted that there's always great competition for audiences' attention. There are certain films that compete for a selective kind of audience. That doesn't really allow me to compare these apples to these oranges. I don't see films as competition, I see them as ways to brag and boast about other countries' work. I see this as two weeks of celebrating film, not two weeks of putting films against one another."

When asked by a Dutch journalist if he was familiar with the work of Alex Van Warmerdam, the first Dutch filmmaker to be up for the Palme d'Or in 38 years (he's here with "Borgman"), Spielberg casually said, "No. We'll become aware of the maker if the film causes us to be made aware of the maker."

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Steven Spielberg, News, Nicole Kidman, Lynne Ramsay, Ang Lee