Iris Knobloch - President of the Cannes Film Festival

Iris Knobloch - President of the Cannes Film Festival

Iris Knobloch is a German lawyer and the daughter of Charlotte Knobloch, a politician and leading figure in Munich's Jewish community. She notably served as Chairwoman of the Warner Bros France and WarnerMedia groups and, since 2022, is the new President of the Cannes Film Festival. She was also named Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, France's highest honor, in 2008.


She studied law at Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University, graduating with a doctorate in law in 1987. She also obtained a Master of Laws from New York University in 1992.

She began a career as a lawyer with the international business law firm Norr, Stiefenhofer & Lutz and O'Melveny & Myers, in Munich, New York and Los Angeles, thus frequently traveling between Germany and the United States. She was also admitted to the bar in Germany, New York and California, and specialized in media law.


From 1996, she held various positions at Warner Bros, with offices in Los Angeles, London and Paris. She was appointed President of the French group in 2006. In 2020, she was appointed Managing Director of the WarnerMedia Group for offices in France, Germany, Benelux, Austria and Switzerland. She is responsible for the development and implementation of the sales strategy in the various regions, as well as for marketing activities. In her job, Knobloch describes herself as a kind of "translator", helping the Hollywood studio to understand the specific challenges of the exceptional French market. In addition to the cinema division, she was also responsible for the television and Internet streaming sectors in the main European markets.

Overall, Knobloch held executive positions for no less than 25 years at Warner Bros, Time Warner and WarnerMedia. Among her greatest successes, she supported the feature film The Artist (2011), shortlisted for the Palme d'Or at the 64th Cannes Film Festival and the first all-French production to win the Oscar in the Best Picture category. She has also supported directors such as Clint Eastwood, and projects by Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, Woody Allen, Damián Szifron, Baz Luhrmann and George Miller, among others.


In 2021, she left Warner Bros to found her own company, I2PO, a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) in the entertainment sector, with the help of billionaire François-Henri Pinault and banker Matthieu Pigasse. I2PO is considered Europe's first SPAC-type acquisition company for the entertainment and leisure industry.

That same year, I2PO acquired the Paris-based music streaming service Deezer, taking it to the initial public offering (IPO) in July 2022. At the turn of the year 2022-2023, Knobloch is propelled to the head of the Board of Directors to, in her own words, focus on key markets such as Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, and build on the contacts and partnerships she has established with long-established media companies.


In March 2022, she was appointed President of the Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first woman and the first non-French person to hold this position. Following her appointment, Knobloch expressed her gratitude and commitment to the 7th Art. "I feel deeply honored that France has elected me President of the Festival de Cannes. As a heartfelt European, I have always stood for cinema throughout my career, both in France and internationally, and I’m thrilled to be able to give my all so that this world event remains influential – it’s a major event that is key to keeping alive the cultural life of a world that, more than ever, desperately needs it. […] I can’t wait to start a collective debate with the Board of Directors, General Delegate Thierry Frémaux, and all of the film industry players to carry on what has been accomplished and to map out the future history in the light of the new challenges coming. […]" (©

She officially succeeds Pierre Lescure, co-founder and former director of French pay-TV channel Canal+, from July 2022, for a three-year term. Knobloch will therefore be in charge of festival editions from 2023 to 2025. As president, she will also have the delicate task of resolving the festival's conflict with American streaming services such as Netflix.


However, not everyone was happy with her nomination. For the first time in the festival's history, the election was not unanimous. Knobloch won with 18 votes in favor, 6 against, 3 abstentions and one tie. She was also attacked for her proximity to the American film industry, her nationality, and her business relationship with François-Henri Pinault, a major sponsor of the film festival, which some see as a conflict of interest. She thus declared that, as president, she would refrain from making any decisions concerning Pinault.

American media manager Charles H. Rivkin and French filmmaker Claude Lelouch, among others, publicly defended her, praising her knowledge of both auteur and entertainment cinema.


Considered honorary, her position as president forms a tandem with that of Festival director and program selector Thierry Frémaux. Her appointment, albeit controversial, was seen as a "signal of modernization for the Paris film scene". Pierre Lescure expressed his appreciation of the appointment of a female director: "When I was reelected in June 2020, I expressed my wish to ensure my succession before the end of my third mandate, and a woman taking over should be paramount. I’m thrilled that Iris Knobloch is coming on board and I will gladly pass the torch on to her as she will undoubtedly show vision and talent in her new position." (©


In addition to her role as President of the Cannes Film Festival, Knobloch is also Vice-Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Accor hotel group, a member of the Board of Directors and Chairwoman of the Nominating and Governance Committee of the US investment bank Lazard, and Director of the American Hospital in Paris.


Article by Julie Henry Poutrel for Adama Toulon.

Photo: Video Women in Motion - Cannes 2023 - Kering Group