- Associated Press - Thursday, January 4, 2018

PARIS (AP) - Australian actress and campaigner against sexual harassment Cate Blanchett will head this year’s Cannes film festival jury, organizers said Thursday.

In a statement, top Cannes officials Pierre Lescure and Thierry Fremaux expressed their delight in welcoming “such a rare and unique artist whose talent and convictions enrich both screen and stage.”

A two-time Academy award winner, Blanchett follows Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, who headed the 70th edition of the festival last year. This year’s star-studded event on the French Riviera will take place from May 8-19.

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The appointment of Blanchett, 48, comes months after she expressed her support to the dozens of women who came forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced Hollywood mogul.

More recently, she joined the Time’s Up initiative alongside other high-profile actresses including Reese Witherspoon and Emma Stone. The campaign aims to clamp down against sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace.

Cannes organizers did not mention the Weinstein scandal or Blanchett’s commitment to the fight against sexual harassment.

“I have been to Cannes in many guises over the years; as an actress, producer, in the marketplace, the gala-sphere and in competition,” Blanchett said.

“But never solely for the sheer pleasure of watching the cornucopia of films this great festival harbors. I am humbled by the privilege and responsibility of presiding over this year’s jury.”

Blanchett won the 2014 Oscar for best actress for her part in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” ten years after being awarded the Oscar for best supporting actress in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator.”

In 2012, she was honored by the French government and awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister for Culture.

“This festival plays a pivotal role in bringing the world together to celebrate story,” Blanchett said.

“That strange and vital endeavor that all peoples share, understand and crave.”

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