Veteran Georgian director Otar Iosseliani has been appointed as head of the Camera d'Or jury as the Cannes festival begins to take shape. The prize, given during the closing ceremony of the official selection, is awarded to the best first feature in any section of the festival.

Iosseliani, whose films reflect his gently ironic humour, commented: "As our craft is heavy and tiresome, we need to take it lightly." He is best known for intimate, regional pictures, but achieved some international acclaim with Zilpevcij Drozd (1971) and Pastoral (1976), and reached possibly his widest audience with the 1984 picture Les Favoris De La Lune, which scooped a special jury prize at Venice that year. He emigrated to France in 1990 and recently filmed Brigands Chapitre VII in 1996 and last year earned a FIPRESCI award for Adieu, Plancher Des Vaches.

In the last few days the festival has confirmed several other events:

  • an international symposium to be held (May 9-10) on the eve of the festival. The event, moderated by Isabelle Huppert, will bring together artists, intellectuals and industry representatives to "reflect upon the consequences of the technical and economic mutations on film-making, and determine the stakes of tomorrow''s cinema."
  • Agnes Varda is to give the annual Cinema Lesson. Since 1991 film luminaries including Wim Wenders, Milos Forman, Bertrand Tavernier, Francesco Rosi and Youssef Chahine, have given what the festival describes as "not a lecture on film, but rather a casual and free evocation of the key moments in the course of an artist''s development, from his memories of actually shooting films to the real life events which have enriched his work."
  • A tribute to Spanish director Luis Bunuel, who would have been 100 this year. The tribute will be made up of three events; inauguration of the Palais' new Luis Bunuel room, an exhibition The Secret World of Bunuel, organised by Spain's Instituto de la Cinematografia y de las Artes Audiovisuales and a special screening of Viridiana, which won the Palme d''Or in 1961.
  • Earlier this week the festival's president Pierre Viot and delegue general Gilles Jacob, together with the mayor of Cannes, Maurice Delauney, established a cordon sanitaire extending from the Palais and along the Croisette to protect the festival from other spin-off events which may damage the festival's image.

    The festival said the exclusion zone is intended to deter "parasite operations which have nothing to do with cinema and which profit from the exceptional media coverage of the festival."

    One event that appears to have particularly caught the festival's eye is a lingerie show planned for May 18. Sponsored by luxury US underwear manufacturer Victoria's Secret, and held at the Palm Beach, the show is part of the annual AIDS research campaign organised by AmFAR. The show is hosted by Elizabeth Taylor and Elton John and backed by Miramax.