Mexico’s Inarritu to head Cannes Film Festival jury

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“Birdman” and “21 Grams” director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will head the jury at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in May, becoming the first Mexican to do so, organizers said on Wednesday.

Inarritu, 55, won the best director award in Cannes in 2006 for “Babel”, a film with a web of narratives spanning three continents and exploring cultural prejudices.

He also won back-to-back best director Oscars in 2014 and 2015, for “Birdman”, a black comedy about a washed-up actor starring Michael Keaton, and “The Revenant”, which featured Leonardo DiCaprio as a bear trapper battling the elements in the American wilderness.

“Cannes embraces all types of cinema, and through the presence of... Babel’s director, it is Mexican cinema that the Festival will be celebrating,” organizers including Pierre Lescure, President of the Festival de Cannes, said in a statement.

They cited “Carne y Arena” (Flesh and Sand) – a virtual reality project showing life as an immigrant and presented by Inarritu at Cannes in 2017 – as a recent highlight of work he has launched in France.

Other jury members for the 72nd edition of the festival, which runs from May 14 to 25, will be announced at a later date.

Inarritu succeeds Australian actress Cate Blanchett as jury head. Last year the top “Palme d’Or” award went to “Shoplifters”, by Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu.

Inarritu is among a trio of Mexican film directors who have risen to global prominence in recent years, alongside Alonso Cuaron, who won this year’s best director Oscar for “Roma”, and Guillermo del Toro, whose feature “The Shape of Water” won the best picture Oscar in 2018.

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