Knobloch will succeed Pierre Lescure, who was re-elected for a third time in June 2020 and is planning to step down after the upcoming edition.
Cannes Film Festival has appointed former WarnerMedia top executive Iris Knobloch as its first-ever female president.
Knobloch will take office on July 1 and her three-year mandate will cover the 2023, 2024, and 2025 editions.
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 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.
Knobloch stepped down in June last year amid Warner’s global restructuring efforts and launched a $300m European special-purpose acquisition company with Artemis, the investment firm backed by French businessman François-Henri Pinault, the boss of luxury giant Kering. Kering, conveniently, is also one of the Cannes festival’s official sponsors.
At Warner Bros., Knobloch played a key role in lobbying to secure a Cannes competition slot for Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist in 2011, a launchpad the film used en route to a historic awards run, capped by five Oscar wins, including for best picture, in 2012.
In a statement, Iris Knobloch said: “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. A film of cinema seen in a theatre remains a key artistic expression and the Festival de Cannes, with its selection so unique, shows the way every year. I can’t wait to start a collective debate with the Board of Directors, General Delegate Thierry Frémaux, and all of the film industry players to carry on what has been accomplished and to map out the future history in the light of the new challenges coming. Eventually, I would like to thank Pierre Lescure for the wonderful work he has done for the Festival over the past eight years and, in advance, for the discussions we will have, to prepare the transition over the next few months.”
Pierre Lescure added: “When I was reelected in June 2020, I expressed my wish to ensure my succession before the end of my third mandate, and a woman taking over should be paramount. I’m thrilled that Iris Knobloch is coming on board and I will gladly pass the torch on to her as she will undoubtedly show vision and talent in her new position.”
General Delegate Thierry Frémaux stated: “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.”