Michelle Yeoh is looking back on watching everything competing at Cannes all at once while serving on the judging panel under then-President David Lynch in 2002.
Yeoh reflected on the particularly ‘exciting’ year of movies, ranging from Gaspar Noé’s jarring and violent sex thriller ‘Irréversible’ to Michael Moore’s school shooting documentary ‘Bowling for Columbine’ and films like Olivier’s sex trafficking mystery Assayas “Demonlover” and the Dardennes’ drama “The Son”. The Palme d’Or was finally awarded to “The Pianist”, the heartbreaking Holocaust drama starring Adrien Brody and directed by Roman Polanski, both Oscar winners.
Yeoh, who was fresh off her iconic role in “Crouching Tiger, The Hidden Dragon,” served on the 2002 Cannes judging panel at a time when she admitted she was “too young” to refrain from being “too emotional” watching the heaviest movies one after another.
“It’s very intense, because you watch two or three movies a day and the movies aren’t light-hearted,” Yeoh said The New York Times. “Sometimes they’re three hours long and they’re not always easy to process.”
He added: “A couple of us felt quite emotional towards the end, where you feel like an artist yourself, you’re processing what you’re watching and going through these roller coaster rides. Damn! It was a little too emotional. At that time I was perhaps still too young and not experienced enough, but since then I don’t think I’ve agreed to do another jury.
Yeoh credited panel chairman Lynch for keeping panelists grounded during programming.
“David is always calm and sets the tone,” Yeoh said.
Sharon Stone, Christine Hakim, Régis Wargnier, Bille August, Raúl Ruiz, Claude Miller and Walter Salles completed the Cannes 2002 jury for the official selection.
And if Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux approached Yeoh about being part of the jury again, she would assure: “If Thierry asked me to do something, I would do it. This is a very simple answer.”
This year’s Cannes jury is composed of Paul Dano, Brie Larson, Moroccan director Maryam Touzani, French actor Denis Ménochet, Anglo-Zambian screenwriter and director Rungano Nyoni, Afghan author Atiq Rahimi, director and Argentine screenwriter Damián Szifrón and “Titane” director Julia Ducournau, with two-time Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund as president of the jury.