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Spain's Almodovar to head Cannes film festival jury

Pedro Almodovar in Cannes in 2016
Pedro Almodovar in Cannes in 2016 Reuters/Regis Duvignau/Files

Pedro Almodovar will chair the jury at the 70th Cannes film festival this year. He is the first Spanish film director to preside over the world's top film event.

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The 67-year-old director will lead the Cannes film festival that will run from 17-28 May.

Reacting to his nomination, Almodovar said, "I am grateful, honoured and a bit overwhelmed." "I can tell you that I'll devote myself, body and soul, to this task, that it is both a privilege and a pleasure."

The Spanish director made his name with colourful and melodramatic black comedies including Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!.

No Palme d'Or for Almodovar

Although Almodovar won the best foreign film Oscar for his powerful 1999 drama All About My Mother, which also won him best director at Cannes, he has never taken its top prize, the Palme d'Or.

The man who would become known as the "Tennessee Williams of La Mancha", first began to make his mark during the "Movida", the hedonistic Madrid-led cultural revival that followed the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) brought him a cult international following and his movies are often marked by the strength and warmth of his leading women, played by Carmen Maura, Victoria Abril, Rossy de Palma and Marisa Paredes.

Almodovar helped launch the Hollywood careers of Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

Cannes film festival director Thierry Fremaux said his "20 films form an incandescent work, a legacy of his punk, protest-filled youth, driven by an insatiable passion for female figures and the history of film itself."

The rest of the jury and the films that will make up the official selection will be announced mid-April.

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