The Cannes Film Festival, is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France. It previews new films of all genres, including documentaries from all around the world.
Spike Lee, American film director, producer, writer, and actor has made history by becoming the first black filmmaker to preside over the Cannes film festival jury
The director said he was “shocked, happy, surprised and proud”.
Cannes president Pierre Lescure and festival director Thierry Frémaux said in a joint statement that “Spike Lee’s perspective is more valuable than ever.”
“Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas. Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of president of the jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!” said the festival toppers.
In response to his Cannes role, the 62-year-old said in a statement that his “biggest blessings… have happened out of nowhere”.
“I’m honoured to be the first person of the African diaspora (USA) to be named president of the Cannes jury and of a main film festival.
“To me, the Cannes film festival (besides being the most important film festival in the world – no disrespect to anybody) has had a great impact on my film career.
“You could easily say Cannes changed the trajectory of who I became in world cinema,” he added.
The Cannes film festival’s official statement said Lee’s work had “brought the questions and contentious issues of the times to contemporary cinema” and acknowledged that many of his films had achieved cult status.
“Spike Lee’s perspective is more valuable than ever. Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas,” it added.
“Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of president of the jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!”
Lee has premiered seven films at the festival, with his 2018 movie BlacKkKlansman receiving wide acclaim.
His appointment follows criticism of the Oscars nominations for ignoring actors and directors of colour.
Nineteen of the 20 acting nominees this year are white – the highest number since the #OscarsSoWhite protests of 2015 and 2016, of which Lee was a vocal supporter. He refused to the attend 2016 Oscars ceremony, prompting some other filmmakers and actors to follow.
The next edition of the festival will take place May 12-23, while the official selection, as well as the rest of the jury, will be unveiled in mid-April. The previous edition of Cannes is bearing fruit this awards season, with “Parasite,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Pain and Glory,” “Les Miserables” and “For Sama” all nominated for Oscars. In total, Cannes titles have garnered 20 Oscar nominations.
Lee will also be awarded an honorary Palme d’Or for lifetime achievement.
He succeeds director Alejandro G Inarritu, whose jury in 2019 awarded the Palme d’Or to Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, which landed six Oscar nominations, including best picture.