For the first time, the board of directors of the Association Française du Festival International du Film has chosen to elevate a woman to its top position, with Iris Knobloch set to become the next president. She will oversee the Cannes Film Festival in 2023, 2024, and 2025, according to Variety. Knobloch will succeed current president Pierre Lescure, with her term beginning on July 1st.
Knobloch, who lives in Paris but was born in Germany, had a successful twenty-five-year career at WarnerMedia, which included working with the company in France, Benelux, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. She was a critical part of the submission of The Artist into Cannes in 2011 ahead of its Oscar win for Best Picture, and served on the Oscar committee in France this year along with festival director Thierry Frémaux.
While some have objected to the fact that Knobloch is not a native of France, she had a positive spin on her connection to the festival: “As a heartfelt European, I have always stood for cinema throughout my career, both in France and internationally, and I’m thrilled to be able to give my all so that this world event remains influential… Cannes is a major event that is key to keeping alive the cultural life of a world that, more than ever, desperately needs it.”
She shared her excitement about getting to work and looking ahead to what’s next for the festival, which will announce its 75th edition on April 14th. “I can’t wait to start a collective debate with the Board of Directors, General Delegate Thierry Frémaux, and all of the film industry players to carry on what has been accomplished and to map out the future history in the light of the new challenges coming,” she said.
Potential issues with Knobloch taking on this role were raised related to conflicts of interest with the acquisition company she still operates, which she has said will not a problem since she will not invest in any film-related assets that could be connected to Cannes, and with her having been backed by controversial members of the French government. Still, Frémaux expressed enthusiasm and optimism about Knobloch, stating that she “will help strengthen the festival’s resolve to stay as close to its beliefs as possible. We have many challenges coming our way and we will do our utmost to make sure cinema — and the festival that embodies it — occupy the position they deserve while strongly affirming their artistic and political necessity.”