It has been a record-breaking year for Greta Gerwig as she achieved multiples firsts for a female director with global smash hit Barbie, topped by becoming the first woman to surpass the one billion mark at the worldwide box office in July.
Gerwig is set to break fresh ground again next May when she becomes the first female American director to take on the role of Jury President at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.
The festival announced the news on Thursday morning describing Gerwig as “a heroine of modern our times” who had shaken the “status quo”.
“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,” said Gerwig.
“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.”
Beyond being the first American female director to be appointed as Cannes Jury President, Gerwig, at the age of 40, is also the youngest person to take on the task since Sofia Loren headed the jury in 1966 at age 31.
Gerwig is the second female director to be Jury President, after Jane Campion in 2014, and the second American woman after actress Olivia de Havilland, who was the 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 Cannes Festival President Iris Knobloch and Delegate General Thierry Frémaux.
“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.”
The festival paid tribute to Gerwig’s transition from doyen of the indie cinema world to global household name.
“Yesterday, ambassador of independent American cinema, today at the summit of worldwide box-office success,” read its release.
“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.”
Charting her career, Cannes noted Gerwig’s first films with Joe Swanberg, co-writing and starring in Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007) and Nights and Weekends (2008), which she also co-directed, as well as her early collaborations with Noah Baumbach on Frances Ha (2012) and Mistress America (2015).
The festival described Gerwig’s solo feature directorial debut, the Oscar-nominated drama Lady Bird, as “a striking, tender and melancholic portrait of the torments of adolescence”, and paid tribute to her second film, the adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, for its fresh look at the female protagonists.
On Barbie, it enthused: “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 second biggest success of the year and has made Greta Gerwig the most bankable female film director in history.”
The 77th Cannes Film Festival will run from May 14 to 25 2024.