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India's a big part at the 66th Cannes Film Festival

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MUMBAI: Hindi film actress Vidya Balan and ?Life of Pi? director Ang Lee will be part of the prestigious 66th Cannes Film Festival?s nine-member jury. The jury will be headed by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg.

The other big names joining Spielberg are Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, Oscar-winner Christophe Waltz, Japanese director Naomi Kawase, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, French actor-director Daniel Auteuil and Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.

The jury will award the coveted Palme d?Or prize to one of the 19 films in competition at this year?s festival, which runs from May 15 to 26.

Balan, 35, currently one of the most successful actors in India, is best known for her path-breaking roles in films like The Dirty Picture, Bhool Bhulaiya, Kahaani and Parineeta.

Apart from Balan, actor/director Nandita Das is also a part of a separate jury for short films. Director Shekhar Kapur and actress Sharmila Tagore have previously featured in the Cannes jury.

Cannes has invited India this year to celebrate 100 years of the country?s cinema. The festival will open with ?The Great Gatsby?, which also has Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan in a cameo. The actor will be attending the opening ceremony with his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, a regular at Cannes? red carpet. This year she has been extended a special invite to the festival.

This year, four Indian films have been selected in different non-competition categories at Cannes. Bombay Talkies, an anthology film by four directors - Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar - will have a gala screening at the festival.

Kashyap will also be screening his Ugly in festival?s Directors? Fortnight sidebar where he earlier showcased his two-part revenge drama Gangs of Wasseypur.

Dabba (Lunchbox) and Monsoon Shootout, co-produced by Kashyap, have been selected for Cannes Critics Week and Midnight Screening sections respectively.

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