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People Staff
January 03, 2008 AT 02:00 PM EST

The organizers of the Cannes Film Festival have announced that Sean Penn will be in charge of judging at the prestigious event in France this May. As president of the movie fest, he will help with jury selection and oversee judging.

“The Cannes Film Festival has long been in the center of discovering the new waves of filmmakers,” the 47-year-old actor said in a statement. “I look forward very much to participating.”

“Penn represents the independent American cinema as well as a vision of America that we like,” said Thierry Frémaux, the festival’s artistic director, of choosing the actor for the position.

While his professional life is moving along smoothly, Penn’s personal life hasn’t had the same good fortune. The actor and his wife of 11 years, 41-year-old actress Robin Wright Penn, recently separated.

The 61st Cannes Film Festival will take place between May 14 and 25 this year.

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