Pedro Almodóvar is a legend.
He was born in Spain three years after the first Cannes Film Festival. In the subsequent 67 years of his life, he has pushed the creative envelope of screenwriting and filmmaking. His influence is truly global, and his films consistently have echoed social themes for over 30 years.
Almodóvar being selected as the president of the jury for the 2017 Cannes Film Festival is significant for many reasons.
1. He is the first Spaniard to earn the honor.
In the festival's illustrious 70-year existence, presidents of the jury have hailed from many countries: France, USA, U.K., Belgium, Japan, Austria, Germany, Italy, Guatemala, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Serbia and Montenegro, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
Now, Spain finally gets to join that company. And Almodóvar is taking it very seriously.
"I am very happy to be able to celebrate the Festival de Cannes 70th anniversary from such a privileged position. I am grateful, honoured and a bit overwhelmed. I am aware of the responsibility that entails being the president of the jury and I hope to be up to the job. I can only tell that I’ll devote myself, body and soul, to this task, that it is both a privilege and a pleasure."
2. It's rarified company.
Some of the past presidents include Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Jeanne Morneau, Luc Besson, Kirk Douglas, Milos Forman, Louis Malle, Ingrid Bergman, and Tennessee Williams.
3. His work has been a staple at Cannes for 30 years.
His movies don't just "get in to Cannes." They are consistently in the running for the Palme d'Or, the highest prize at the festival. -
4. His work has been cutting-edge since day one.
Black comedy/drama is an understatement when it comes to Almodóvar's work. He draws you in with luscious colors, framing, and scenery while shaking you awake with themes of identity, political freedom, and passion. His new film "Julieta" has received mass critical acclaim.
5. His mantel is overflowing with awards.
He is considered one of — if not the most — successful Spanish filmmakers of all time. He has won two Oscars, three Goya Awards, seven European Film Awards, four BAFTAs, four Cannes prizes, one Italian Golden Globe, and many more.
But that's not all. Other highlights include: the French Legion of Honor, a Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts from the Spanish Ministry of Culture, selection as a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and honorary doctoral degrees from Harvard and Oxford universities. And many more.
It's a really, really big fireplace.
6. He's a president the world is actually excited about!
With all the news inundating us, we get to celebrate a universally liked celebrity getting the recognition he deserves.
7. Diversity is (finally) getting more recognition this year.
A Spaniard finally being recognized as president of the jury and the Oscars making history this year with a black actor nominated in every major acting category are just two signs of progress for diversity in the arts.
In the scheme of the recent barrage of events that we've been subjected to as new subjects this pales in comparison. A judge at a posh film festival in an overpriced tourist town in France wouldn't normally make for breaking news. But I'll take the smallest of victories wherever I can to try to find some true escapism, in real life and on the silver screen.