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Vidya Balan on Cannes Film Fest jury

LONDON, April 24 (Reuters, PTI): India’s Vidya Balan, double Oscar-winning director Ang Lee and Australian actress Nicole Kidman will be on the nine-member jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival, organisers said on Wednesday.

The panel, led by triple Oscar-winner Steven Spielberg, will decide the awards handed out when the world's most important annual cinema showcase closes on May 26.

Taiwan-born Lee, 58, won his second Best Director Oscar this year, for “Life of Pi”, the story of an Indian boy cast adrift in a lifeboat with a tiger. He won his first Academy Award in 2006 for directing the gay cowboy drama “Brokeback Mountain”.

Balan, 35, one of the most respected performers in India, is best known for her path-breaking roles in films like 'The Dirty Picture', 'Kahaani' and 'Parineeta'.

Another jury member is Austrian actor Christoph Waltz who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year for his role in ”Django Unchained”, while Kidman, 45, won a Best Actress Oscar for the 2002 film“The Hours”.

“Eight international movie personalities of very high level will help him (Spielberg) award the prizes. They are all engaged and active in several creation spheres,” the organisers said in a statement.

The world's biggest film festival runs from May 15-26 this year and opens with Australian director Baz Luhrmann's latest screen version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel“The Great Gatsby” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

“Vidya Balan on cannes jury... awesome...,” director Anurag Kashyap tweeted.        Director Shekhar Kapur and actress Sharmila Tagore have previously been a part of Cannes jury.

Cannes has invited India this year to celebrate 100 years of country's cinema.        Apart from Balan, actress Nandita Das is also a part of a separate jury for short films.        The festival will open on May 15 with 'The Great Gatsby', which also has megastar Amitabh Bachchan in a cameo.

The actor will be attending the opening ceremony while the festival has extended a special invite to his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, a regular at Cannes' red carpet.

This year, four Indian films have been selected in different non-competition categories at Cannes.        'Bombay Talkies', an anthology film by four directors --Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar -- will have a gala screening at the festival.

Kashyap will also be screening his 'Ugly' in festival's Directors' Fortnight sidebar where he earlier showcased his two-part revenge drama 'Gangs of Wasseypur'.

Dabba' (Lunchbox) and 'Monsoon Shootout', co-produced by Kashyap, have been selected for Cannes Critics Week and Midnight Screening sections respectively.

Among the prizes is the coveted Palme d'Or for best movie in the main competition which this year has 19 entries including Steven Soderbergh's “Behind the Candelabra”, Roman Polanski's ”Venus in Fur” and “Only God Forgives”, starring Ryan Gosling.

Last year the prize went to Austrian director Michael Haneke's film “Amour”, a story of an elderly couple facing illness and death.

Winning the Palme d'Or prize can significantly boost a picture's box office and awards potential.

Also on the jury at the 66th Cannes Film Festival are Japanese director Naomi Kawase, French actor/director Daniel Auteuil, British director Lynne Ramsay and Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.

Mungiu, 44, won the Palme d'Or in 2007 for his film “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” set in Communist Romania in the final years of the Nicolae Ceausescu era.

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