Spike Lee to be president of Cannes

BlacKkKlansman director heads competition jury

by Richard Mowe

Spike Lee to rule over the Cannes competition
Spike Lee to rule over the Cannes competition Photo: Courtesy Cannes Film Festiva/© Nicola Goode
American director Spike Lee is to serve as president of the jury at the next Cannes Film Festival, organisers have announced.

At 62, the Do The Right Thing and BlacKkKlansman filmmaker, who is also a screenwriter, actor, editor and producer, has a reputation for raising questions and contentious issues of the times in his contemporary cinema. Lee, though, never lost sight of the public, setting out to heighten their awareness of his causes in film after film.

Surrounded by his jury, which will be announced in mid-April, Lee will award the Palme d'Or at the close of the 73rd edition, which will take place from 12 to 23 May 2020.

In a statement issued by the festival he said: “In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpectedly, 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."

"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.”

In 2018, after a 22-year absence, the Brooklyn-based director returned to the competition section with BlacKkKlansman and offered up glaring proof of his undiminished anger and virtuosity. By turns a scathing comedy, detective thriller and political tract, the film garnered the Grand Prix followed by the director's first Oscar for one of his films.

The Cannes connection started back in 1986 – when his first feature film She's Gotta Have It, won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Directors' Fortnight. The next offering was in 1989 with Do The Right Thing, an Official Selection in Competition. Lee said: " I don't have the time nor space to write about the cinematic explosion that jumped off, still relative to this, 30 years later."

On behalf of the Festival de Cannes, its board of directors and its teams, Pierre Lescure, president, and Thierry Frémaux, general delegate, said they were delighted to welcome him.

"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."

Lee succeeds Alejandro G Iñárritu, whose jury awarded the Palme d’Or to Korean director Bong Joon-ho's Parasite last year, a film which continues to be a smash hit in cinemas around the world - and is released in the UK on February 7. It has just won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film and received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director.

The Official Selection at this year's and the full composition of the jury will be revealed in mid-April.

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