Gilles Jacob joined the Cannes Film Festival as its general delegate in 1977 and assumed the presidency in 2001. Now 83 years old, the prolific critic, author and director says he will step down in 2015. In an interview to be published this weekend, Jacob tells southern France newspaper Nice-Matin, “I’ve promised my wife several times that I would stop. This time, I’m going to do it.” Over the past 12 years, Jacob has taken on something of a figurehead role with the fest’s executive and artistic director Thierry Frémaux handling the official selection since 2001 as well as other managerial duties. But Jacob is a Cannes fixture who has long been a symbol of the festival. Over his nearly 40 years with the event, he has been responsible for such innovations as the Camera d’Or prize which goes to a first time filmmaker, and for the Un Certain Regard sidebar which runs concurrently with the Competition. He also stands alongside Frémaux at the top of the red-carpeted steps welcoming guests to every Competition screening during the festival’s ten day run. He has documented the festival in documentary and short films that include 2012’s Cannes anniversary movie A Special Day. His latest book, Les Pas Perdus, was published in France on April 24.