Sean Penn will lead awards jury at Cannes

January 3, 2008 11:06:25 AM PST
American actor and director Sean Penn will head the awards jury at the Cannes Film Festival this year, organizers announced Thursday.

The festival's 61st edition is scheduled for May 14-25.

Penn said in a statement "that a new generation of filmmaking may have begun," citing "increasingly thoughtful, provocative, moving, and imaginative films by talented filmmakers" in what appeared to be "a rejuvenation of cinema building worldwide."

"The Cannes Film Festival has long been the epicenter in the discovery of those new waves of filmmakers from all over the world. I very much look forward to participating in this year's festival as president of the jury," Penn said.

British director Stephen Frears, known for "The Queen," "High Fidelity" and "Dirty Pretty Things," led the jury last year that awarded the top prize to Romanian director Cristian Mungiu for "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," a harrowing portrait of an illegal abortion in Communist-era Romania.

Penn won a best actor Oscar for "Mystic River" for his role as an ex-hoodlum who reverts to his criminal ways to exact revenge for his daughter's death.

He directed "Into The Wild," considered a front-runner for major awards this year, about a young idealist whose journey to Alaska ends in tragedy. He also starred as a death row inmate in "Dead Man Walking."