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Meryl Streep guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the 77th Festival de Cannes

May 3, 2024

Meryl Streep will be the guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the 77th Festival de Cannes which will take place on the stage of the Grand Théâtre Lumière on Tuesday, May 14. A celebrated figure in American cinema, the American actress will kick-off the upcoming edition which will draw to a close on Saturday, May 25th with the awards’ list given by the President of the Jury, Greta Gerwig.

After Jeanne Moreau, Marco Bellocchio, Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Jane Fonda, Agnès Varda, Forest Whitaker or Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep will receive the Festival’s Honorary Palme d’or. 35 years after winning the Best Actress award for Evil Angels, her only appearance in Cannes to date, Meryl Streep will be making her long-awaited return to the Croisette.

“I am immeasurably honored to receive the news of this prestigious award. To win a prize at Cannes, for the international community of artists, has always represented the highest achievement in the art of filmmaking. To stand in the shadow of those who have previously been honored is humbling and thrilling in equal part. I so look forward to coming to France to thank everyone in person this May!” Meryl Streep stated.

“We all have something in us of Meryl Streep!” Iris Knobloch and Thierry Frémaux said. “We all have something in us of Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, Out of Africa, The Bridges of Madison County, The Devil Wears Prada and Mamma Mia! Because she has spanned almost 50 years of cinema and embodied countless masterpieces, Meryl Streep is part of our collective imagination, our shared love of cinema.”

After her drama studies and initial success on New York City stages, Meryl Streep’s career took off on the big screen in 1978 with The Deer Hunter, starring Robert De Niro. In Michael Cimino’s film, Meryl Streep wrote all her lines to give her character nuance and depth. This marked both her first Oscar nomination — now reaching a record 21 — and her demand to play strong, ambivalent women. For example, when she starred opposite Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer, she refused to let the film revolve around the male lead and rewrote a crucial monologue. She went on to win her first Oscar, and quickly gained recognition from the audiences and the industry alike.

Meryl Streep uses her intuition and hard work to reinvent herself with every appearance. Even on the scale of a film: in Karel Reisz’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman, she played two roles. In Alan J. Pakula’s Sophie’s Choice, her acting addresses a mother’s inconceivable moral dilemma. For this character, she studied German and Polish to take on the accent — impeccable according to Andrzej Wajda — and won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Sidney Pollack’s unforgettable historical, romantic epic Out Of Africa (1985) marked a new turning point, in which she and Robert Redford formed one of cinema’s most legendary couples. Far from confining herself to the register of passionate love, Meryl Streep also ventured into darker characters. In Fred Schepisi’s 1988 Evil Angels (A Cry In The Dark), she played a mother accused of infanticide. Her performance earned her the Best Actress Award at the 1989 Festival de Cannes.

In the 1990s, she tried her hand at gritty comedy: she challenged female stereotypes in Mike Nichols’ Postcards From The Edge and Robert Zemeckis’ Death Becomes Her. In The Bridges Of Madison County, she captured the screen alongside Clint Eastwood in a love story as impossible as it is timeless, that went down in cinema history.

Throughout her career, Meryl Streep has never shied away from publicly denouncing the precarious position of women in the film industry. Aware of the issues surrounding the representation of women in Hollywood movies, and keen to embody all their facets in all their complexity and fragility, Meryl Streep plays a wide variety of roles and genres. After Stephen Daldry’s The Hours and Robert Altman’s The Last Show, it was in two roles as funny as unexpected that she once again made her mark: as the cantankerous editor-in-chief of a fashion magazine in The Devil Wears Prada and Donna, a hippie who marries off her daughter in the musical Mamma Mia! She went on to star in biopics (The Iron Lady, Florence Foster Jenkins, Julie & Julia), political satires (Lions For Lambs, Pentagon Papers, Don’t Look Up) and family films such as Little Women, directed by Greta Gerwig, who serves as President of the Jury at this year’s Festival de Cannes.

Two women, two generations, two aspirations, and the same passion for the Seventh Art, brought together on the stage of the Grand Théâtre Lumière.

Header Photo: © Brigitte Lacombe

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