Greta Gerwig © Ben Rayner
Following a year in which she beat every record with her film Barbie, the American director, screenwriter, and actress Greta Gerwig is to preside over the feature film Competition Jury of the 77th Cannes Film Festival, which takes place May 14 – 25 2024.
A heroine of our modern times, Greta Gerwig shakes up the status quo between a highly codified cinema industry and an era that is demanding greater expansiveness. And she’s a cinephile. “I love films – I love making them, I love going to them, I love talking about them. As a cinephile, Cannes has always been the pinnacle of what the universal language of movies can be. Being in the place of vulnerability, in a dark theatre filled with strangers, watching a brand-new film is my favorite place to be. I am stunned and thrilled and humbled to be serving as the president of the Cannes Film Festival Jury. I cannot wait to see what journeys are in store for all of us!”
In less than fifteen years, Greta Gerwig has gained recognition in american and worldwide cinema. Originally from Sacramento, California, but a New Yorker by adoption, she who dreamed of being a playwright has crafted her own path, with both consistency and a taste for risk, toward the heights of brilliance.
Yesterday, ambassador of independent American cinema, today at the summit of worldwide box-office success, Greta Gerwig manages to combine what was previously judged to be incompatible: delivering arthouse blockbusters, narrowing the gap between art and industry, exploring contemporary feminist issues with deft as well as depth, and declaring her demanding artistic ambition from within an economic model that she embraces in order to put to better use.
Whether acting, writing, or directing, her artistic endeavours have recurrent leitmotifs, such as family upheaval, adolescent rites of passage, fear of loss of social status or the emergence of artistic vocation via characters that are free, sometimes fragile and marginal, but also fierce.
Starting out as an actress, Greta Gerwig transformed into a screenwriter working on a variety of projects. She co-wrote Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007) and Nights and Weekends (2008) which she also co-directed, then Frances Ha (2012), Mistress America (2015) and of course Barbie with Noah Baumbach, her accomplice in art.
Her very first solo work, Lady Bird (2017) – a striking, tender and melancholic portrait of the torments of adolescence – was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Best Director.
For her second film, Greta Gerwig ambitiously took hold of the American literature classic from 1868 by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, again with the intention of taking a fresh look at all of the story’s female protagonists, so as to better examine their emancipation in a world dominated by men. In a double reading, the director also undertakes a subtle examination of her own place within the cinema system and the compromises required in terms of commercial success to appeal to a mass audience.
Finally, her most recent feature film was released in July 2023, the tornado that is Barbie, ploughs the same furrow in even more spectacular fashion, by facing up to that ambivalent idol of small girls, a symbol of the female-as-object, but also of woman-emancipated. In this fierce satire about the human condition, Greta Gerwig nails everyday sexism, and stereotypes, with joyful intent. An international cultural phenomenon, Barbie is the biggest success of the year and has made Greta Gerwig the most bankable female film director in history.
The first American female director to take on the role of Jury President at the Festival de Cannes, Greta Gerwig, at the age of 40, adds another record to her considerable list of awards: that of becoming the youngest person to take on the task since Sofia Loren only aged 31 in 1966, and the second female director since Jane Campion in 2014; and the second American woman after Olivia de Haviland first female Jury President in 1965.
“This is an obvious choice, since Greta Gerwig so audaciously embodies the renewal of world cinema, for which Cannes is each year both the forerunner and the sounding board”, said Iris Knobloch, Festival President, and Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate. “Beyond the 7th Art, she is also the representative of an era that is breaking down barriers and mixing genres, and thereby elevating the values of intelligence and humanism.”
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Copyright Text: Press Office Festival de Cannes