Top French director Patrice Chereau has been named as president of the competition jury for the forthcoming Cannes Festival (May 14-25).

Noted initially as a theatre director, Chereau first made the transition to film in 1974 with La Chair De L'Orchidee and became a Cannes regular with La Reine Margot and Ceux Qui M'Aiment Prendront Le Train.

A quietly spoken, intelligent director with a reputation for getting the best out of actors, he seems a smart choice for a role that requires the sensitive handling of a diverse and often strong willed jury.

"His work has always been accompanied by a reflection of the nature of art. He has often gone out on a limb in order to satisfy this curiosity, which he has pursued in the linked fields of theatre, opera and now cinema," said Gilles Jacob, Cannes president, in a statement.

Chereau said that he imagines his time as jury president: "will allow [him] to be at the heart of the living memory of cinema and to have contact with many forms of cinema different from our own."

He said that he also hoped to "make these few days a tool that will help us better understand the state of the cinema industry, where we ourselves are and what stories need to be told."

The announcement of Chereau's Cannes appointment immediately set off speculation about whether his new film Son Frere will screen at Berlin or out of competition at Cannes.

The picture made for Franco-German public broadcaster Arte tells the tale of two estranged brothers who are brought together again by the critical illness of one of them. His last film Intimacy won the Golden Bear at Berlin in 2001.