PARIS (AP) — The Cannes Film Festival announced its most Hollywood-heavy jury lineup in years Wednesday, with a list that includes Oscar winners Nicole Kidman, Christoph Waltz and Ang Lee.
Veteran filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who is 2013's jury president, will make this an Oscar-winning quartet — a rare event for a festival that prides itself on celebrating less mainstream, independent cinema.
"The Oscars (connection) is a coincidence as all this people are friends of Cannes. And don't forget that these stars are also involved and engaged in independent cinema," Cannes Artistic Director Thierry Fremaux told The Associated Press.
"It has to be legitimate and glamorous... They all have their (unique) place in the jury," he added.
Kidman, who trod the Riviera festival's red carpet last year for the nominated "Paperboy," will certainly add a glamour factor, but will join a host of lesser known, but equally important, industry names including Romanian director Cristian Mungiu who won the festival's prize for best screenplay in 2012 for "Beyond The Hills."
Other jurors include French actor Daniel Auteuil, Indian actress Vidya Balan, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, and Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase.
They will all vote on the 19 nominated films, which include a sprinkling of works by old Cannes favorites like Roman Polanski, the Coen Brothers and Steven Soderbergh, to decide the winner of the coveted Palme d'Or. The festival's top accolade will be awarded on May 26.
In what will please those who have accused Cannes of sexism in the past, again this year the jury is balanced between genders.
"It's tradition: a male or female president, then four women and four men. It's important that at a time when women's in cinema is under scrutiny, to stick to this tradition," said Fremaux.
Last year, Cannes was accused of sexism for a compiling a Palme d'Or shortlist of films that included no women directors. This year, there is only one female Palme d'Or contender, from the sister of former French first lady Carla Bruni, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi with her feature "A Chateau in Italy."
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP