Iris Knobloch appointed Cannes Film Festival’s first female president

Former WarnerMedia top executive Iris Knobloch has been elected as Cannes Film Festival’s first-ever female president and will take up the role on July 1.

She will succeed Pierre Lescure, who was first elected to the role of festival president in 2014, replacing Gilles Jacob, and is now partway through a third three-year mandate running through to 2023.

Lescure has said previously he was open to stepping down early to accompany a transition period while a new president takes up the reins. He is not due to step down on June 30 of this year.

Knobloch’s three-year mandate will cover the 2023, 2024 and 2025 editions of the festival.

Rumours of Knobloch’s potential appointment were first mooted in French satirical and political insider weekly Le Canard Enchainé in early March.

According to French film and TV trade paper Le Film Francais, the festival’s administrative board voted Knobloch in on Wednesday (March 23) by 16 votes in favour, six against and three abstentions.

Knobloch spent 25 years at WarnerMedia and was president of WarnerMedia France, Benelux, Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the time of her departure in mid-2021.

Prior to that role, she was president of Warner Bros Entertainment France and Benelux from 2006. The German-born executive, who has been based in Paris for many years, originally joined WarnerMedia in 1996 and held several senior roles in LA, London and Paris.

”I feel deeply honoured that France has elected me president of the Festival de Cannes. As a heartfelt European, I have always stood for cinema throughout my career, both in France and internationally, and I’m thrilled to be able to give my all so that this world event remains influential – it’s a major event that is key to keeping alive the cultural life of a world that, more than ever, desperately needs it,” Knobloch said in a statement issued by the festival confirming her election.

The Cannes president is an unpaid role and is mainly representative. The president is not involved in the Official Selection or the day-to-day running of the festival which is the responsibility of delegate general Thierry Frémaux.

The president is expected to bring their professional sphere of influence and experience to bear in support of the festival. Knobloch’s studio connections are believed to have worked in her favour.

”My team and I are thrilled to see Iris Knobloch join us. Her election will help strengthen the festival’s resolve to stay as close to its beliefs as possible. We have many challenges coming our way and we will do our utmost to make sure cinema and the festival that embodies it, occupy the position they deserve while strongly affirming their artistic and political necessity,” said Frémaux.