Mad Max director to head Cannes Film Festival jury

"Mad Max" creator George Miller will head the jury at this year's Cannes film festival, its organizers said on Tuesday, the first Australian ever to preside over the world's top film event.

Mad Max director to head Cannes Film Festival jury
"Mad Max" creator George Miller. Photo: AFP
The 70-year-old director of “The Witches of Eastwick”, who launched the career of Hollywood star Mel Gibson and a whole genre of “outback gothic” films with the “Mad Max” series in 1979, reacted to the news in typically flamboyant fashion.
“What an unmitigated delight!” he said. “Such an honour. I'll be there with bells on!”
Choosing the unapologetically populist Miller, who also wrote and directed “Babe”, the world's first blockbuster about a talking pig, may ruffle the sensibilities of Cannes' arthouse diehards.
He returned to the animal kingdom with the animated 2006 hit about tap dancing penguins, “Happy Feet”.
But the organizers were at pains to point to his credentials as a cinematic pioneer.
“Throughout his career, George Miller has constantly experimented with a variety of genres, brilliantly reconciling mass audience expectations and the highest artistic standards,” they said in a statement.
“Mad Max” broke the mould, they argued, “an ultra-violent futuristic film that brought the action film genre a touch of class with its masterly combination of road movie, Western and science fiction elements.”
The fourth in the series, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, opened last year's Cannes festival and is in the running for no less than ten Oscars later this month.
It scooped nine prizes at last week's Critics' Choice Awards in Los Angeles, including best director.
Miller's heart-breaking drama “Lorenzo's Oil”, starring Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte, was nominated for two Oscars in 1992.
But “Happy Feet” won the director the best animated feature award in 2006.
Miller was one of a quartet of talented and commercially successful Australian film-makers to have emerged in the 1980s, led by Peter Weir (“Picnic At Hanging Rock”, “The Truman Show”), Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”) and Phillip Noyce (“Patriot Games”).
The 69th Cannes festival will run from  May 11th to 22nd. Miller's jury, who will decide who gets its top prize, the Palme d'Or, will be announced later.

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Cannes Film Festival postponed to July due to Covid

The Cannes Film Festival has been rescheduled for July 6th to 17th - postponed by around two months due to the ongoing virus crisis, organisers said on Wednesday.

Cannes Film Festival postponed to July due to Covid
The 2018 Palme d'Or winner Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda posing for the cameras at the Cannes Film Festival, is an annual highlight for movie lovers in France. Photo: AFP

“As announced last autumn, the Festival de Cannes reserved the right to change its dates depending on how the global health situation developed,” they said in a statement.

“Initially scheduled from 11th to 22nd May 2021, the Festival will therefore now take place from Tuesday 6th to Saturday 17th July 2021.”

The festival was cancelled last year, while rival European events in Berlin and Venice went ahead under strict health restrictions.

The Berlin Film Festival, which usually kicks off in February, said last month it would run this year's edition in two stages, an online offering for industry professionals in March and a public event in June.

France has closed all cinemas, theatres and show rooms alongside cafés, bars and restaurants as part of its Covid-19 health measures and the government has pushed back their reopening date until further notice due to rising levels of viral spread across the country.

The Cannes festival normally attracts some 45,000 people with official accreditations, of whom around 4,500 are journalists.

It had only been cancelled once before, due to the outbreak of war in 1939.

Its Film Market, held alongside the main competition, is the industry's biggest marketplace for producers, distributors, buyers and programmers.

Last year, the festival still made an official selection of 56 films – including the latest offerings from Wes Anderson, Francois Ozon and Steve McQueen – allowing them to use the “Cannes official selection” label.