Iris Knobloch, the former boss of WarnerMedia France and Germany, has been chosen by the board of the Cannes Film Festival to become its first woman president, Variety has learned. Taking over on July 1 for a three-year term, 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.
The German-born, Paris-based executive was elected by the board of directors of the Association Française du Festival International du Film, which brings together public authorities and film industry professionals, amid much controversy in France. The festival confirmed the news on Wednesday evening via a press release and said the election was held via secret ballot as always.
Knobloch stepped down from WarnerMedia in June 2021 after a 25-year tenure in various leadership roles. Before leaving the company, she oversaw the strategy as well marketing activities for WarnerMedia France, Benelux, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Shortly after, she launched a $300-million European special purpose acquisition company with powerful backers, including the French billionaire businessman Francois-Henri Pinault, who happens to run the luxury brand Kering, an official sponsor of Cannes Film Festival.
During her tenure at WarnerMedia, Knobloch played a crucial role in getting Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” into Cannes’ competition in 2011 before it went on to win five Oscars. She was one of the members of this year’s Oscar committee in France, alongside Cannes Film Festival’s director Thierry Fremaux.