Spike Lee has been named jury president of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, which will be held May 12-23. The announcement comes two years after Lee’s last film “BlacKkKlansman” premiered to a standing ovation at the 2018 edition of the festival.
“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,” the Festival’s board said in a statement. “Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of President of the Jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!”
In his own statement, Lee said he “was shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time,” and he credited the festival for having a huge role in his career success. “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 said.
“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,” Lee continued.
“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.”
Lee added that he is “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,” the director concluded, “I will always treasure this special relationship.”
The full jury for the 2020 Cannes film festival will be announced in April.