African artists to sit on Cannes Film Festival jury panels

Ati Metwaly , Monday 29 Apr 2024

Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El Moudir, French-Senegalese Maïmouna Doucouré, Rwandan actress Eliane Umuhire are among several artists from African countries or of African descent who will sit on jury panels of different segments of the Cannes Film Festival



The African artists on Cannes Film Festival's jury panels mark a significant development in the festival's inclusion of voices from the continent. However, this contrasts with the number of films from Africa set to be screened at the festival. In this regard, 2023 was exceptional for Africa - screening 15 films from the continent - while this year sees only a few entries, and mostly from the continent's northern shores.

El-Moudir and Doucouré are on the jury of Un Certain Regard, one of the most prestigious segments of the festival and one that "includes unusual styles and non-traditional stories seeking international recognition," the festival explains. 

Asmae El-Moudir is a Moroccan film director, screenwriter and producer. Her multi-award-winning The Mother of All Lies had its world premiere at the Un Certain Regard section of the 76th Cannes Film Festival (2023), winning the Best Director award. It also shared the L'Œil d'or award with Four Daughters.

The film was Morocco’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards (2024); it made it to 15 finalist films in the December 2023 shortlist but was not selected.

Born to parents of Senegalese origin, Doucouré grew up in a polygamous household with two mothers.

This experience inspired her second short film, Maman(s), which won several awards including Best International Short Film at the Toronto International Film Festival (2015), César Award for Best Short Film (2017), Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival (2018), among numerous others and countless nominations. 

France-based award-winning Rwandan actress Eliane Umuhire is a member of the Critics Week jury panel.

She received numerous Best Actress awards (mostly shared with Jowita Budnik) for her role in Birds Are Singing in Kigali (2017) including from the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Polish Film Festival, Namur International Festival of French-Speaking Film, among others. 

The panels also include Omar Sy, a French actor born to a Mauritanian mother and Senegalese father; and Baloji, a Belgian rapper and film director of Congolese origin.

Omar Sy, who sits on the jury of Cannes Official Selection, scored numerous awards and nominations. Most recently he was nominated for Best Actor in Television Series Drama at Golden Globe Awards 2022. His most prominent wins include two César Awards (2012 and 2017) in addition to many Best Actor awards from different festivals and film academies. 

Musician, filmmaker and polymath Baloji is on the Caméra d'Or (Golden Camera) jury panel, a segment that rewards the best first film of debutants competing in the Official Selection, the Directors' Fortnight and the International Critics' Week selections.

Baloji’s debut feature Omen premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 76th Cannes Film Festival (2023) where it won the New Voice Prize. It was also Belgium's entry for Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards (2024). 

Last but not least is Loubna Azabal on the Cinéfondation and Short Films Competition jury panel.

The Belgian actress was born in Brussels to a Moroccan father and a Spanish mother, Azabal made her name as a stage and film actress. Several of her roles earned her the Magritte Award, an accolade presented by the Académie André Delvaux of Belgium for cinematic achievement in the film industry.

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