Two-time Academy Award-winning Australian actress Cate Blanchett will head this year's Cannes film festival jury, organizers said on Thursday.
Blanchett said she has been to Cannes "in many guises over the years — as an actress, producer, in the marketplace, the gala-sphere and in Competition," but never "for the sheer pleasure of watching the cornucopia of films this great festival harbors."
"I am humbled by the privilege and responsibility of presiding over this year's jury," the 48-year-old actress said.
The festival, she added, "plays a pivotal role in bringing the world together to celebrate story; that strange and vital endeavor that all peoples share, understand and crave."
Top Cannes officials Pierre Lescure and Thierry Fremaux expressed delight at welcoming "such a rare and unique artist whose talent and convictions enrich both screen and stage."
The star-studded festival on the French Riviera kicks off on May 8, and runs through May 19.
Anti-sexual harassment campaigner
Blanchett won the Oscar for best actress for her part in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," and the Oscar for best supporting actress in Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator." She is the 12th woman to lead the prestigious panel at Cannes, and follows Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, who headed the 70th edition of the festival last year.
More recently, the actress has expressed support for the dozens of women who came forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
She was one of the 300 influential women in Hollywood who launched the "Time's Up" initiative this week, which aims at clamping down on sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace.
db/eg (AP, AFP, dpa)