One of the most fascinating movie directors, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu from Mexico, will head the international jury at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, running this year from May 14 to 25.
This is the first ever occasion that a Mexican will preside over the jury. And it is hoped that Cannes, undoubtedly the Queen of Festivals, will celebrate Mexican cinema through Inarritu.
Inarritu -- who succeeds last year's jury president, Cate Blanchett (who gave the Golden Palm to Hirokazu Kore-eda's marvellous Shoplifters) -- has a compelling canvas of work.
Inarritu's first movie, Amores Perros, dramatically explored Mexican society through three intertwining stories connected by a car accident in Mexico City. His next, 21 Grams, was his debut American film, which received Oscar nominations for Naomi Watts' and Benicio del Toro's performances.
Babel was the last of his trilogy stitched together by four fractured narratives – taking place in three different continents and in five languages. It got Inarritu the Best Director Palm in 2006, and the movie garnered seven Oscar nods.
Inarritu's most poignant, most sensitive portrayal of human emotions came in the Oscar-nominated, Spanish -language Biutiful with Javier Bardem as a dying father giving an unforgettable performance. Bardem got his second Best Actor Palm at Cannes, the first being for Amores Perros.
In what looked like a completely different approach, Inarritu presented Birdman Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance -- an existential dark comedy analysing the ego of a forgotten superhero actor. It clinched several Academy Awards, including those for Best Director, Best Picture and so on, in 2015. A year earlier, it premiered at Venice.
In 2016, Inarritu won his second consecutive Academy Award for Best Director for The Revenant, a meditation on revenge and brutal colonisation of the West by exterminating natives. Leonardo DiCaprio went home with the Best Actor Oscar.
(Author, commentator and movie critic Gautaman Bhaskaran will cover the Cannes Film Festival this May)