Arab-Israeli film star Hiam Abbass has been named to the jury of next month’s Cannes Film Festival.
The selection, announced Wednesday, is the latest international honor for Abbass, who won a 2008 Ophir, Israel’s equivalent of the Oscar, for playing a Palestinian woman in the Hebrew/Arabic drama “Lemon Tree.”
The 51-year-old Abbass will join A-list jury members including Ewan McGregor (“Trainspotting,” “Beginners”), Diane Kruger (“Inglourious Basterds”) and director Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”). Much of the press coverage about her selection has described her as Palestinian, although the Nazareth-born performer holds Israeli citizenship.
A three-time nominee for the Ophir, Abbass is one of Israel’s highest-profile actors, Jewish or Arab. Twice nominated for a European Film Award, she has starred opposite Natalie Portman and Juliette Binoche (in Israeli director Amos Gitai’s “Free Zone” and “Disengagement,” respectively). Her forays into American filmmaking include a role in 2007 indie favorite “The Visitor,” and a part in Steven Spielberg’s 2005 drama “Munich.”
As a member of the Cannes jury, Abbass will help decide the winner of prizes including the Palme d’Or, the festival’s top honor.
With the exception of Abbass and a short film by a student at Tel Aviv University, Israel will sit out this year’s Cannes festivities.
The 2011 event saw an Israeli film, Joseph Cedar’s “Footnote,” win the festival’s prize for best screenplay.