Last year, the Cannes Film Festival was forcibly postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is only the second time the twelve-day event has not been held during its 74-year history. To celebrate its return, the event’s board of directors chose to nominate one of the most notable and prolific filmmakers in Black cinema and the movie world to be the next president of the festival’s jury: Spike Lee.
This appointment is actually one year delayed because Lee was originally slated for the position last year, but the festival’s cancellation derailed those plans. Now, with its resumption, the festival will officially see Lee as the first Black person to hold the distinction. Cannes’ general delegate Thierry Frémaux posted Lee’s invitation to YouTube and shared the moment.
“Way back in 1986, my very first film, She’s Gotta Have It, played there,” Lee said, enthusiastically accepting the honor. “[A]nd it was my introduction to the world of cinema. So, Cannes will always, always, always have a deep, deep spot in my heart. Book my flight now! My wife Tonya and I, we’re coming!” The Cannes Film Festival is also where Lee first premiered some of his other work, including Do the Right Thing (1989), Summer of Sam (1999), and BlacKkKlansman (2018).
As the jury president, he will be at the head of selecting which films end up winning an award at Cannes from July 6 through July 17. The remaining jurors are expected to be known sometime in early June, and other festival information should be revealed in the following weeks.
Pierre Lescure, president of the Cannes Film Festival, alluded to Lee’s notable, well-known dynamism as well as his help behind the scenes. “Lee has never stopped encouraging us throughout the months of uncertainty we’ve just been through,” he said. “This support is finally coming to fruition, and we could not have hoped for a more powerful personality to chart our troubled times.”