US actor Robert De Niro will chair the jury of this year’s Cannes film festival, which opens May 11 on the French Riviera, organizers announced Thursday.
De Niro, 67, will be the third American in four years to head the jury of the world’s most prestigious film festival, after director Tim Burton in 2010 and actor-director Sean Penn in 2008.
"The Cannes Film Festival is a rare opportunity for me as it is one of the oldest and one of the best in the world," the 67-year-old Oscar-winner said in a statement.
Two of De Niro’s films have won the coveted Palme d’Or at previous Cannes festivals: Martin Scorsese’s "Taxi Driver" in 1976, and 10 years later, "The Mission" directed by Roland Joffe.
As jury chairman, silver-haired De Niro will steer the panel that will decide the winning feature films at Cannes.
In selecting him, organizers said they wanted to honor not only his acting talent, but also the Tribeca Film Festival — which he helped establish in his native New York a decade ago — and its sister festival in the Gulf.
"As co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival and the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, I have an increased appreciation for the jury (which undertakes) an important role in choosing films that are represented in the world of film at its highest level," De Niro said.
"These types of festivals help connect the international film community and have a lasting cultural impact."
De Niro collected the Academy Award for best actor in 1980 for "Raging Bull," also directed by Scorsese.
His other works include Scorsese’s "Mean Streets", Francis Ford Coppola’s "The Godfather Part II," Michael Cimino’s "The Deer Hunter", Sergio Leone’s "Once Upon a Time in America" and Scorsese’s "Goodfellas."
His latest picture, "Little Fockers," the third installment of his series with Ben Stiller about nightmare in-laws, topped the North American box office over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period.
Away from the cameras, De Niro has been actively involved in safeguarding and promoting the work of his father, Robert De Niro, Sr., a surrealist painter who died in 1993 at the age of 71 from prostrate cancer.
It was to him that the younger De Niro dedicated his directorial debut, "A Bronx Tale," in 1993.