The Cannes competition jury. Photo: FDC / F. Lachaume

Turnabout is fair play in Cannes. When the competition kicks off tomorrow night here in France, nine jurors—directors Steven Spielberg, Naomi Kawase, Ang Lee, Lynne Ramsay and Christian Mungiu, as well as actors Daniel Auteuil, Vidya Balan, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz—will sit in judgement of the 20 films unspooling over the next 10 days in the race for the 2013 Palme d'Or.

“Everyone sits in judgement of us, so now its our turn,” jury president Steven Spielberg joked today. He was seated alongside his fellow jurors during a press conference on a grey afternoon here at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The director said that he's been asked countless times to serve on the jury here. This year he wasn't shooting in the spring so he decided to give it a go. Nicole Kidman, who was here last year with Lee Daniels' The Paperboy, said she's been asked often to participate, but this year is different; she wanted to spend some quality time with Spielberg!

For filmmaker Ang Lee, the idea of judging his colleagues is weighing heavy on his mind.

“I'm afraid to judge people's movies in public,” he said “(I have) tried to avoid it as much as I can.”

Lee said he's praying that the entire jury will fall in love with the same movie so that their decision is easy and consensual: “Hopefully something will just grab our heart and we wont have to fight that hard or argue.”

However, Lee and Kidman each said that being on the Cannes jury is a way to give back and hopefully shine a light on new cinematic voices.

“I think it's very difficult to rank films; it's very difficult to judge films,” added the Romanian director Christian Mungiu, who won the Palme d'Or for his film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days in 2007. “In a few years you will know if the film is good or not.” But, Mungius said, awards bring attention to new films and are good for raising their international profile.

All nine judges had something to say about serving on the most prestigious jury at, arguably, the most prestigious film festival in the world. Try to match the quotes with the jurors below!


1. “We're always sitting in personal, private judgement of the movies we see anyway, this isn't much different than going in to see if a film moves you.”

2. “An Oscar is easier than a Palme d'Or. Every festival has its own aura. Cannes is artistically driven, high brow. It is different from the Oscar race which feels more like a popularity contest for 6,000 people.”

3. “Walking up the stairs to the photo call and up here [to the press conference], I forgot I was a juror; the memory was still too strong. But I promise I'll concentrate on being a juror.”

4. “Today in the world, given current difficulties, it's necessary to overcome this situation. The Cannes Film Festival is an opportunity to exchange dialogues. Here at the festival, it's a place where people come together. We view all these wonderful films which gives us a glimpse into the future. [My country] has suffered many disasters and I truly believe this festival can send out positive messages to the world.”

5. “When I was asked to be on the jury, I (went) on the internet to see the past winners of the Palme d'Or and was shocked I had seen a lot of the films and many of them had shaped my film understanding. I am excited to work with my fellow jury members to find the films that will go down in film history. We have all come together because we all love the cinema.”

6. “The first step as a filmmaker is to [emulate others], but your next step is to be courageous enough to be original and to expand the limits of your art. I'm looking forward to seeing films that lead us on a different path.”

7. “This festival has been very very good to me and I've been asked to be on the jury before. It so happens that I had time and the passion for absorbing this [now]. Ultimately it's just nine people's opinion. At the same time its a platform for films. It celebrates films and gives the films a chance to be discovered.”

8. “We are celebrating 100 years of films [in my country] and it's my first film jury. I am excited to see how different people view film.”

9. “I had a student film here. [Cannes] is really a platform for special films and the art of film. You come here with the pressure of your own film, instead of seeing your work, which is ultimately what [this festival] is about.”

Answers (use cursor to select text to reveal):

1. Steven Spielberg
2. Ang Lee
3. Christoph Waltz
4. Naomi Kawase
5. Daniel Auteuil
6. Christian Mungiu
7. Nicole Kidman
8. Vidya Balan
9. Lynne Ramsay