Steven Spielberg praises campaign-free Cannes

Cannes Film Festival jury press conference Steven Spielberg (centre) leads this year's nine-person jury

Steven Spielberg has praised the annual competition between contenders at the Cannes Film Festival for being free of Oscars-style campaigning.

"It's such a relief that we're going to be seeing movies and we'll deliberate a final result and we don't have to go though the campaign," said the US director, head of the Palme d'Or jury,

Films in the running this year include Inside Llewyn Davis, a film about 1960s folk music from the Coen brothers.

The winner will be announced on 25 May.

Speaking on Wednesday, Spielberg said that what appealed to him about being on the jury was the freedom from months of PR parties and the full-page magazine adverts needed ahead of the Academy Awards.

"As you know, it's part of award season in America like a political cycle," said the Schindler's List director at the official jury press conference.

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Everyone sits in judgement over us, now it's our turn”

End Quote Steven Spielberg

"We had campaigning for the 2012 election, and there's always campaigning for the Oscar election. There's none of that here so it's a breath of fresh air."

Spielberg, who has never shown a film in competition at Cannes, said the judging process was "not so different from watching a movie yourself and forming an opinion".

"We all sit in judgement of the moves we see anyway, waiting to see if the film changes you and introduces something you've never seen before.

"Everyone sits in judgement over us, now it's our turn.

"I've always just accepted that there is great competition in film, for the attention of the audience," he added.

Spielberg is joined on this year's panel by fellow Oscar winner Ang Lee, former Palme d'Or recipient Christian Mungiu and actress Nicole Kidman.

Seven Spielberg and Nicole Kidman Actress Nicole Kidman joins Spielberg on the judging panel

Other jurors include Lynne Ramsey, whose film We Need to Talk about Kevin was screened at Cannes two years ago.

"I started here as a student filmmaker, my graduation film came here so I feels it started things for me," said the Scottish director.

"I've had a long journey with Cannes and I'm really looking forward to seeing some films. I'm excited."

Lee, who was named best director for Life of Pi at this year's Oscars, said he had avoided invitations to sit on film juries in the past as he is "afraid to judge peoples movies in public".

But, he went on, "sometimes it's important that you contribute something to the film community, and this is a prestigious festival and it's an honour to sit here with these artists."

Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase, a past winner of the Camera d'Or for debut directors, used a translator to explain that "while in the outside world there are many conflicts, here at the festival it is a place where people come together."

While other international figures on the jury such as Romanian director Mungui and German actor Christoph Waltz speak English, Spielberg said they all shared the "common language of cinema".

Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee Spielberg and Ang Lee have four best director Oscars between them

"I think that's what bonds us," he continued. "Everything that follows will be a result of the films and how they bring us together or divide us.

"The power of the films will be the determining factor," he added.

Waltz, who enjoyed Oscar success himself for his role in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, admitted as he posed for pictures outside the Palais des Festivals that he had "forgotten I was on the jury".

He said he expected "discussions of the highest level" with his fellow jurors.

Kidman's country singer husband Keith Urban has recently done some judging of his own on the panel for US TV show X Factor. But the actress said he had not shared any tips.

"It is strange that we are doing this back to back," she admitted. "But we both love what we do and we are both fans.

"Plus I get to spend a whole two weeks with Steven Spielberg," she added.

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