Since Cannes began, many have wondered whether friendships will play a part in the decision-making, the same way they wondered when Brad Pitt won Best Actor in Venice for Jesse James when Alejandro Gonz√°lez I√±√°rritu was on the jury that year (Babel director). To that end, Penn told the AP:
The topic was recently covered in an AP story:
Having Eastwood in competition puts Sean Penn, head of the Cannes jury, in the odd position of judging the work of a man who shepherded him to an Oscar. Penn won the best-actor prize for Eastwood’s “Mystic¬†River.”
As Cannes opened May 14, Penn said it was “an emotional impossibility, I believe, for any of us to give in to something as petty as to favor a film because a friend of ours is in it. I also want to make it clear that this person will not be biased against. And that if Clint Eastwood’s done a film that deserves awarding, we’re going to … award¬†it.”
“Mystic River” and three previous Eastwood films ‚Äî “Pale Rider,” “Bird” and “White Hunter, Black Heart” ‚Äî all played in competition at Cannes. While “Bird” won the lead-actor prize and a technical award at Cannes, Eastwood has never received the festival’s top¬†award.
It does seem that the Penn/Eastwood thing would work more against the film than for it. Penn would never want to be perceived as someone who would give an award to a film because of a good friendship. Both Eastwood and Steven Soderbergh are going to enter this year’s race as directors who have a lot of friends, a lot of actor friends specifically. Either way, the Palme is notoriously difficult to predict.