Norwegian actress and director Liv Ullmann will head the jury of the 2001 Cannes film festival, replacing Jodie Foster who pulled out to take the lead role in David Fincher's The Panic Room.

"I am both honoured and deeply appreciative that I am now given the pleasure of being the president of the jury of the Cannes Film Festival and to work with what I enjoy the most: watching movies," Ullmann said in a statement issued by festival president Gilles Jacob. "For me, movies can be the best approach to the emotion and purity of music. And like music, a movie can pass all our protective walls - and go right into our deepest emotions."

Ullmann was in Cannes last year as a film-maker with competition title Faithless, her third feature and the second based on a script by long-time life partner Ingmar Bergman. She was a member of the 1978 Cannes jury, which was headed by Alan Pakula, and has also visited the Croisette with Sven Nykvist's The Ox (1992) and Bergman's Face To Face (1976) and Cries And Whispers (1973) in which she starred.

Born in December, 1939 in Tokyo, Ullmann was nominated twice for a best actress Academy Award for Face To Face and Jan Troell's The Emigrants, for which she won a Golden Globe in the 1970s. Her directorial debut was Sofie in 1992. Her next film, the epic literary adaptation Kristin Lavsransdatter (1995), became one of the most successful local films ever in Norway, but failed in foreign markets.

Jacob's choice of Jodie Foster was interpreted as a nod to Hollywood the year after he was criticised for his lack of interest in studio fare. However, the impact of the impending US actors' strike could have influenced him to choose a European star. Ironically, Ullmann is also known as a staunch defender of non-Hollywood cinema.

Osman Kibar IN OSLO also contributed to this report.