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Out Filmmaker Xavier Dolan to Serve as Jury Head at Cannes this Year

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

His despairing comments around retiring from filmmaking notwithstanding, 35-year-old movie wunderkind Xavier Dolan is set to serve as head of the Un Certain Regard jury at Cannes this year, acccording to The Hollywood Reporter.

It will be a chance for Dolan to see the jury process from the other side. As THR recalled, "Dolan won the Jury Prize at Cannes with 'Mommy' in 2014 and the Grand Prix trophy for 'It's Only the End of the World' in 2016."

In a Feb. 29 statement, Dolan described himself as "humbled and delighted to return to Cannes as president of the Un Certain Regard Jury," THR detailed.

"Even more than making films myself, discovering the work of talented filmmakers has always been at the very heart of both my personal and professional journeys," Dolan added. "I see, in this responsibility I'm assigned, the opportunity to focus with the members of the Un Certain Regard Jury on an essential aspect of the art of film – stories told truthfully."

Dolan "made his debut on the Croisette at age 20 with 'I Killed My Mother' as part of the Director's Fortnight," THR narrated, noting also that he "made his first entry in the Un Certain Regard sidebar with his second film, 'Heartbeats,' in 2010."

"Two years later, his film 'Laurence Anyways' earned the section prize for best actress for Suzanne Clement."

Those career highs seem to have been countered by existential lows. The filmmaker said last summer that he intended to bow out of directing films from now on, telling El Pais in July, "I don't feel like committing two years to a project that barely anyone sees."

"I put too much passion into it to have these disappointments," Dolan added. "It makes me wonder if my filmmaking is bad, and I know it's not."

Expressing even bleaker sentiments, Dolan told the newspaper he was "afraid of a civil war caused by intolerance," and ruminated, "I don't understand what is the point of telling stories when everything around us is falling apart."

Added Dolan: "Art is useless and dedicating oneself to the cinema, a waste of time."

Not all of his output has excited critical acclaim. Dazed noted that while "'It's Only the End of the World' won the Grand Prix at Cannes,[it] was met with wildly polarized reviews," while "'The Life & Death of John F Donovan,' released in 2018, was widely panned."

"Matthias & Maxim," the outlet added, "fared a little better, but it was hardly a critical triumph."

"Still," Dazed noted, "Dolan's contribution to queer cinema cannot be understated: films like '[Heartbeats],' [and] 'Mommy' ... are already firmly part of the canon. It's a sad testament to the challenges facing independent filmmakers today that a director of such evident talent has felt the need to abandon his craft."

However, this latest announcement serves to keep the spark of hope alive that perhaps reports of Dolan's retirement have been exaggerated – a claim the director himself made, perhaps as a way to walk his earlier comments back.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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