Two years after BlacKkKlansman debuted on the Croisette, Spike Lee is heading back to Cannes to serve as jury president.
The 62 year-old U.S. filmmaker will award the Palme dO’r at the close of the 73rd edition, which will take place from 12-23 May, 2020. Jury members will be announced in mid-April.
BlacKkKlansman, which won Cannes’ Grand Prix and scored Lee’s first Oscar, marked the director’s return to Cannes after a 22-year absence. Seven of Lee’s movies have played at the festival, including She’s Gotta Have It, Do The Right Thing and Summer Of Sam.
Lee said in a statement, “In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere. When I got the call that I was offered the opportunity to be president of Cannes jury for 2020, I was shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time.”
He continued, “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.
“It started way back in 1986 – my first feature film She’s Gotta Have It, which won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight. The next joint was in 1989 – Do The Right Thing, an Official Selection in Competition. And I don’t have the time nor space to write about the cinematic explosion that jumped off, still relative to this, 30 years later.
“Then Jungle Fever 1991 – Official Selection in Competition, Girl 6 1996 – Official Selection out of Competition, Summer Of Sam 1999 – Director’s Fortnight, Ten Minutes Older 2002 – Official Selection in Un Certain Regard and then BlacKkKlansman 2018 – Official Selection in Competition where it won the Grand Prix, which became the launching pad for the world theatrical release which led to my Academy Award for screenplay.
“So if you were keeping score that’s 7 Spike Joints to be chosen. In closing I’m honored to be the first person of the African diaspora (USA) to be named president of the Cannes jury and of a main film festival. The Lee family sincerely thanks the Festival de Cannes, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux and the great people of France who have supported my film career throughout four decades. I will always treasure this special relationship.”
In the role, Lee succeeds Alejandro G. Iñárritu, whose jury awarded the Palme d’Or to Bong Joon-ho’s multi-Oscar nominee Parasite.
Cannes President Pierre Lescure and festival head Thierry Frémaux said, “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!”
The iconic, firebrand director has previously criticized the lack of diversity in the film industry. Cannes has had its own inclusion problems, including around women and black directors. Mati Diop last year became the first black female director to have a film in competition at the event.
Despite the ongoing Netflix snafu, Cannes had a stellar edition last year. Movies from the festival, including Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Parasite, Pain And Glory, For Sama and Les Miserables, have garnered 20 Oscar nominations.
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