In what could be a disturbing trend for the world's premier film festival, Robert De Niro was named the head of 2011 Cannes film jury today.  No disrespect to the great De Niro, who will receive the Golden Globes' Cecil B. DeMille award later this month, but this marks the third time in the last four years an American has lead the influential jury.  De Niro follows Tim Burton and Sean Penn who presided over the 2010 and 2008 juries respectively.  Before Penn, the last American to hold court on the Croisette was Quentin Tarantino in 2004.

De Niro is no stranger to film festivals having co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival which will is celebrating its 10th edition this April.  In fact, Cannes said by inviting De Niro they wanted  "to pay also tribute to the co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2011.”

In a statement, De Niro noted, "“As co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival and the Doha Tribeca Film Festival I have an increased appreciation for the jury, who serve, undertaking an important role in choosing films that are represented in the world of film at its highest level, and these types of festivals help connect the international film community and have a lasting cultural impact.  Having served as President of the Jury in the eighties twice, I know this isn’t an easy task for me or my fellow jury members, but I’m very honored and happy to head the jury for this year’s Cannes Film Festival.”

The programmers at Cannes have come under increased criticism for a lack of stellar material over the past few years with the 2009 and 2010 editions being considered especially weak. 

The 2011 Cannes Film Festival runs May 11- 22, 2011.