Last Updated: January 4, 2008By Tags:

(BY ALI NADERZAD) Perhaps in a nod to its political past the Cannes Festival has named Sean Penn jury president of the next Cannes Film Festival, which will take place on May 14-25. Penn is one of the film establishment’s more outspoken critics of the administration. He most recently directed Into the Wild. In accepting the invitation, 47-year-old Penn said: “The Cannes Film Festival has long been the epicentre 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.” The Cannes Festival is the world’s best festival not just because many of the year’s best films are launched there and thousands of deals are brokered at Cannes’s film market, but because it has managed to maintain a certain aura of political activism. Whether that’s implicit or explicit, conscientious or tacit, could be debated ad nauseam, some other time. The Cannes festival was born in the spirit of protest. When Venice would award fascist propaganda films the awards that should have gone elsewhere, a new festival was inaugurated in France with the help of the ministry for education.

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