(Paris) The Cannes Film Festival rolls out a candy pink carpet for one of the most prominent filmmakers of the moment, Greta Gerwig, director of “Barbie” and leading figure in American auteur cinema, named president of its 77th edition .

The 40-year-old director, also an actress and screenwriter, will succeed the Swede Ruben Östlund from May 14 to 25, whose jury awarded the Palme d’Or this year to Anatomy of a Fall.

She is “the first American filmmaker to take on” this role, the festival noted. And her presence will give a breath of youth to the Croisette: Cannes has not had such a young president since Sophia Loren and her 31 years… in 1966.

She is also the first female director since actress Cate Blanchett in 2018 to access this prestigious position, where men remain over-represented with notable exceptions, such as Jane Campion or Isabelle Huppert.

“I deeply love films,” said the American director in a festival press release. “I like doing them, I like going to see them, I like talking about them for hours. As a film buff, Cannes has always been for me the pinnacle of what the universal language of films can represent. »

By announcing in December that it was hiring a very prominent female director, the largest film festival in the world pulled the rug out from under one of its juniors, the Berlinale, which takes place in February.

The German festival has just announced on Monday its president of the jury, also aged 40, the Mexican-Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, the first black person to occupy this position.

The Cannes buzz starts very early, even before the start of the Oscar race, pushed back to March 10 after a historic six-month strike that paralyzed Hollywood. An awards season for which Greta Gerwig is among the favorites: Barbie, along with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, is in pole position in the race for the Golden Globes, with nominations in nine categories.

The director has in any case already won over the public: with this film she entered Hollywood history this year as the most profitable director, the first to cross the billion-euro mark in revenue. Released in the summer, the film grossed more than $1.44 billion worldwide.

Beyond this crazy comedy with a feminist message for which she co-wrote the screenplay, Greta Gerwig became known as “the muse of independent American cinema”, recalls the festival.

She directed Lady Bird (2017), a comedy about adolescence which put her in the running for the Oscar with Saoirse Ronan. She reunites with the actress, accompanied by Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Laura Dern for her modernized and feminist adaptation of a classic of American literature, The Daughters of Doctor March (2020).

The one who is preparing an adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia for Netflix has also played in more than twenty films, including the black and white comedy Frances Ha, co-written with her companion, director Noah Baumbach, or in the film by the latter White Noise, alongside Adam Driver.

“This choice is obvious as Greta Gerwig boldly embodies the renewal of world cinema,” declared festival president Iris Knobloch and its general delegate Thierry Frémaux. “Beyond the 7th art, she also appears as the representative of an era which abolishes borders and mixes genres to make intelligence and humanism triumph.”

By naming Greta Gerwig, the festival also highlights the persistence of its links with the powerful American industry.

The appointment last year as president of Iris Knobloch, from Warner, reinforced this honeymoon between Hollywood and the Croisette. Cannes was thus the scene this year of the return of legends like Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones) or Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon).

The festival must still unveil in the coming months the composition of the rest of the jury as well as the list of films in the official selection.