Former Canal+ boss and founder to succeed Gilles Jacob in 2015.
Pierre Lescure will be the new president of the Cannes Film Festival, replacing Gilles Jacob, who will step down after this year’s 67th edition (May 14-25) having held the post since 2001.
The former chief of French broadcaster Canal+ will take up his responsibilities on July 1, when Jacob officially steps down.
French Minister of Culture and Communication Aurélie Filippetti broke the news on Twitter that Lescure had been officially elected by the festival board on Tuesday morning.
“Congratulations to Pierre Lescure, voted unanimously as president of the Cannes Film Festival, succeeding Gilles Jacob,” she tweeted.
Other board members at the election also tweeted and posted photos of the meeting. One tweet revealed Lescure had received a unanimous 28 votes.
The announcement of Lescure’s election came as little surprise. Celebrity magazine Paris Match controversially broke the news Lescure had clinched the role last week ahead of an official statement from the festival.
Quizzed on the report, his main rival for the post, Jerome Clement, a former head of French-German broadcaster Arte and the National Cinema Centre (CNC), then confirmed to French news agency AFP that he had been informed before Christmas that Lescure had been selected.
Lescure, 68, worked as a journalist for two decades before joining politician and entrepreneur André Rousselet in the creation of pay-TV operator Canal+ in the mid 1980s, a project strongly supported by socialist President Francois Mitterrand.
Rising from the position of managing director to president by the mid-1990s. He left the group in 2002, some two years after its ill-fated merger with Vivendi and Seagram to create Vivendi Universal by Jean-Marie Messier.
Since then he has held posts on the boards of various companies and entities linked to the audiovisual and media worlds including conglomerate Havas, Le Monde and digital hardware company Thomson, since renamed Technicolor.
A staunch supporter of the Socialist party, who publically backed the President Francois Hollande’s election campaign in 2012, Lescure was asked by the current government to compile a far-reaching report in 2012, aimed at setting a blue print for French cultural policy in the digital age.The results of the report, called Act 2 of the Cultural Exception, were released last year.
According to local media, the French film industry has mixed feelings about Lescure’s appointment, viewed by most as a political one.
Some welcomed Lescure’s business background and strong links to the US and Hollywood through his time at Canal+, suggesting it will bolster Cannes’ big-name pulling power. Others in the industry would reportedly have preferred someone with stronger cultural credentials like Clément.
“The presidency has become a high-stakes game of influence and political skill,” wrote the Le Monde newspaper in an article on Lescure’s selection.
Beyond these discussions, however, it is clear that Lescure’s style will be very different from that of Jacob, who held the job from 2001, having overseen Cannes’ line-up from 1977.