Cannes president Gilles Jacob has paid tribute to film critic Alexander Walker, who died suddenly yesterday.

"It is with great sadness that I heard about Alex's passing. Alex was a close friend, a great critic and historian," Jacob told Screen.

"I believe that he didn't miss a single Cannes Film Festival for as long as I have been working there myself and his advice and encouragement always brought me luck. "

Walker had attended the Cannes Film Festival for the past 49 years. He was also highly respected in France: in 1981, he was honoured with the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Jacob continued: "Alex had a great sense of humour and at the same time he could be a harsh critic. His tone was always correct, he was very civil and perfectly fair even concerning polemics. His books on stars, particularly on Hollywood stars, on directors and studios like MGM are exemplary references.

"British cinema is bereaved and I would like to take part in this sadness in my own name as well as in the name of the Cannes Film Festival."