Joel and Ethan Coen, celebrated and inseparable creators of modern film classics such as Raising Arizona, the Big Lebowsky, Fargo and a Serious Man will be the first brother judges of the Cannes Film Festival, as reported by the Associated Press. Joel and Ethan were selected as part of a celebration of “cinema brothers.” The festival will run from May 13 to 24.
The pair have been shaking up the world of cinema since they first began writing and directing their films in 1984 with their premier film Blood Simple. They have won their share of awards at Cannes, including the Palme d’Or in 1991 for Barton Fink, best director for Fargo in 1996 and The Man Who Wasn’t There in 2001. The brothers have won 100 awards and have been awarded with one Oscar each.
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Joel and Ethan Coen grew up in a Minneapolis suburb, and both of their parents were college professors. They first started making movies as kids with their friend from the neighborhood, Mark Zimering. Their first stab at a film was entitled, Henry Kissinger, Man on the Go.
While there are Jewish references now and again in their films, with Barton Fink as a not-so-veiled fictional version of the playwright Clifford Odets and the famous line from the Big Lebowski, “I don’t fucking bowl on Shabbos, ” the Coen brothers say their Jewish upbringing doesn’t play a major role in the topics of their films. A Serious Man has a strong Jewish theme and was translated into Hebrew for the Israeli cinema as “The Good Jew.” Joel says that “in regards to whether our background influences our film making …. who knows? We don’t think about it. There’s no doubt that our Jewish heritage affects how we see things.”