Spike Lee makes history at prestigious Cannes Film Festival

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee (Photo by Derrel Johnson of Steed Media Service)
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee (Photo by Derrel Johnson for Steed Media Service)

Legendary Do The Right Thing director Spike Lee will serve as jury president at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival in May, making him the first Black filmmaker to ever do so.

The Cannes Film Festival, which takes place in the South of France, is on par with the annual Sundance Film Festival in suburban Salt Lake City as the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

According to Variety magazine, Lee will be charged with overseeing “the official selection competition” at the 73rd edition of the festival.

Lee credited Cannes, which he calls “the most prestigious film festival in the world,” as changing the trajectory of who he became in world cinema.

“In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere,” Lee wrote in a statement that was obtained by NBC News.

“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.”

Lee has already won the Grand Prix of honors at Cannes with his latest movie, BlacKkKlansman in 2018. The Grand Prix is bestowed for competing feature films and is the second-most prestigious prize of the festival after the Palme d’Or.

The film went on to win the Academy Award for that year’s best original screenplay, earning Lee his first-ever Oscar –  despite making movies since the mid-1980s.

Cannes president Pierre Lescure and festival director Thierry Frémaux says appointing Lee to such a prestigious position is necessary to infuse new ideas and perspectives into the uber-glamorous conference of movie makers.

“Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas,” Lescure and Frémaux wrote in a statement obtained by NBC News. “Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up.”

To add icing to the cake, Lee is going to be bestowed – the Palme d’Or – for his lifetime of achievement.

The 73rd Festival de Cannes will take place from May 12 to May 23.

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