Who are the Cannes Film Festival jury members? Here's how the winners are chosen.

Who are the Cannes Film Festival jury members? Here's how the winners are chosen.
Source: AP
Source: AP

Will Smith recently caused a stir at Cannes when he criticized director Pedro Almodóvar for not wanting to include Netflix movies in the festival's official selections. It sounds like a typical Hollywood spat — until you consider that Almodovar is the president of Cannes' feature films jury, of which Smith is just a member. Keep reading to find out why that makes Smith's remarks slightly impertinent, even if well-founded.

Who are the jury members?

The Cannes Film Festival boasts four main juries. The feature film jury decides which movie takes the festival's highest honor: The Palme d'Or, aka the Golden Palm. Almodóvar, known for directing such acclaimed movies as All About My Mother, Volver and Bad Education, is essentially the head honcho of all juries forever, at least until next year. In addition to Smith, the jury includes actress Jessica Chastain and Park Chan-wook, a South Korean filmmaker who directed Stoker, a 2013 psychological thriller starring Mia Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman. 

The un certain regard jury, led by Uma Thurman, is tasked with awarding the movies categorized as having the most "original aim and aesthetic" in international cinema. The cinéfondation and short films jury, which awards the festival's best short films and student films, boasts Moonlight director Barry Jenkins as a member. The camera d'or, which hands out the Golden Camera award to the best first-time director at the festival, consists of mostly representatives from French cinema.

Finally, there are independent juries — formed separately from the Cannes jury selection committee — which represent various movie industry-adjacent organizations. For example, the queer palm jury has been awarding Queer Palm prizes to the festival's best LGBTQ-themed films since 2010. 

What are the prizes?

In addition to the Palme d'Or, the feature film jury hands out a Grand Prix and Jury Prize to the festival's second- and third-best films, respectively. Most accolades, including the Camera d'Or award, will be awarded May 28. 

The 2016 winners included American Honey, starring Shia LaBeouf, and Olivier Assayas, who won a directing award for the Kristen Stewart-starring Personal Shopper.

How are the winners selected?

Winners are chosen by majority using a secret ballot. Jury members cannot have films in competition. 

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Evan Lambert

Evan is an arts writer who once thought he'd be a doctor. In 2016, he co-wrote a play about the ghost of Abraham Lincoln teaming up with Sarah Palin to save America. You can reach Evan at elambert@mic.com.

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