Cannes festival head Gilles Jacob wins new term

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Gilles Jacob, the 81-year-old president of the Cannes film festival, has secured a new term at the helm of the international movie showcase, along with its director Thierry Fremaux.

Jacob has received the world's top filmmakers in the Riviera city for the past 30 years, first as Cannes festival director then from 2001 as president, with a mandate that was due to expire after its 65th edition on May 16-27, 2012.

Meeting on Tuesday, however, the Cannes board of administrators voted to extend his mandate on until 2014, Jacob told AFP.

Several big-name players were rumoured to be angling for the top job -- even including French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand -- but according to one board member, "it suited everyone" to keep Jacob in position.

"I couldn't resist the temptation" to run again, Jacob for his part told AFP.

The 50-year-old Fremaux, who has formed a team with him for over a decade, will also stay on until 2014, with expanded executive powers over the festival's budget, staffing and development.

"I will have total freedom to act," Fremaux told AFP. "It is the start of a new governance at the head of Cannes to guarantee the festival's future."

Starting in January, Fremaux will knuckle down to the weighty task of picking the official selection for the upcoming festival, viewing five to seven films a day, submitted by many of the world's top film directors.

"We will continue to combine my experience with his youth and dynamism," Jacobs said of his partner Fremaux.

"What people see is the pair of us standing on the festival steps in tuxedos, welcoming the stars -- but the truth is we are the workers shovelling coal below deck while everyone parties up above," he added.

The Cannes festival is run as an association whose members are a mix of French state representatives, including of the culture ministry and parliament, and figures from the French film world, from producers to cinemas.

© 2011 AFP

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