The Mauritanian director follows in the wake of illustrious predecessors in the role among them Abbas Kiarostami, Jane Campion, Michel Gondry, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Martin Scorsese. The juries judge students films and shorts.
Born in Mauritania but brought up in Mali he trained in filmmaking in the Soviet Union. His films cross cultures and continents. Timbuktu represented a cry from the heart for the country of his childhood in West Africa and was perfectly balanced between hope and despair. His work has been acclaimed for its humanism and social consciousness, exploring the complex relations between North and South as well as the fate of his much-beleaguered and much loved Africa. He received the prize of the Ecumenical Jury as the film became one of the most praised titles in the Festival. It has been nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar.
Sissako has a long association with the festival, having entered his film school project The Game into the Critics' Week sidebar in 1991 and his Octobre in the Un Certain Regard sidebar two years later. His Life on Earth was in the Directors’ Fortnight lineup in 1998, and Waiting For Happiness was in the Un Certain Regard selection in 2002. In 2006, his Bamako was presented out of official competition at the festival.
Although full details off the official jury line-up will not be announced until April it has already been confirmed that brothers Joel and Ethan Coen will serve as co-presidents of the official Festival jury where they won the Palme d’Or in 1991 for Barton Fink and the festival’s grand prix for Inside Llewyn Davis in 2013. The brothers who were named best directors twice for Fargp in 1996 and in 2001 for The Man Who Wasn’t There, will be free of commitments. Currently they are in production on Hail, Caesar! with George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton.