Cannes Film Festival President Iris Knobloch Says Her Parents, Holocaust Survivors, Taught Her About the ‘Power of Cinema’

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Cannes Film Festival president Iris Knobloch said she learned about the “power of cinema to carry messages, liberate speech and accomplish a duty of remembrance” from her parents, who are Holocaust survivors.

Speaking at the Kering Women in Motion Talks at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, the Munich-born Knobloch said her parents took her to the movie theater several times a week. “For them, going to the cinemas was about reclaiming the youth they had lost.”

She cited Volker Schlöndorff’s “The Tin Drum” as the one movie that marked her the most, alongside French movies by Claude Sautet, Claude Lelouch. “I would see the Cannes Film Festival from afar, and it seems a bit like a fairy tale to be here today,” said Knobloch, a trained lawyer who became Cannes’ first female president in 2023 after spending 25 years at Warner Bros. where she led the studio in France and Germany.

A highlight of her first year as Cannes Film Festival’s president was Justine Triet’s Palme d’Or for “Anatomy of a Fall.”

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Knobloch said she and Triet saw each other in Los Angeles at the Oscars and the filmmaker confided about how the Palme d’Or and other awards have changed her life. “It changed her professional life, it changed the way she looked at herself, and obviously it changed the life of this film which is now a global box office success and has received 180 nominations, 100 prizes and an Oscar.”

Asked about challenges she has faced as a top-ranking female executive, she admitted that “it’s clear that as a woman you always have to prove that you’re at the right place and more so than if you were a man. You have to give more.”

But “it’s not necessarily a setback,” she said, because “It forces you to reach a certain excellence. It gives you the strength to move ahead.” She pointed out she had to prove that she deserved the role of president of the Cannes Film Festival, and the “same thing would not have happened if a man had been nominated.” While she’s optimistic that “things will change,” she finds that these “preconceived” ideas still remain very grounded in today’s society.

Knobloch says “believing in yourself is the most important for women who always and often under-estimate themselves.” “I know it myself,” she confided.

Knobloch acknowledged however that several men have played a decisive role throughout her career. “We need men on board to achieve gender equality. It doesn’t happen without [them]. When I look back at my career, almost always, it was a man who pushed me forward, who gave me that moment of visibility where I could prove what I could do. And that made the difference,” she said.

She also praised this year’s Cannes Jury President and “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig for being a “symbol of the modern and free woman.” “She represents all the values of the Cannes Film Festival.”

Cannes Film Festival President Iris Knobloch Says Her Parents, Holocaust Survivors, Taught Her About the ‘Power of Cinema’

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