The American director Spike Lee is to serve as President of the Jury at the next Festival de Cannes.
At 62, the filmmaker, who is also a screenwriter, actor, editor, and producer, has made numerous films that have become cult objects, and he brought the questions and contentious issues of the times to contemporary cinema. But he’s never lost sight of the public, setting out to raise their awareness of his causes in film after film.
Surrounded by his Jury, which will be announced in mid-April, Spike Lee will award the Palme d’Or at the close of the 73rd edition, which will take place from 12 to 23 May 2020
He’s the one raising his fist. It was he who paid tribute to Robert Mitchum with the words “love” and “hate” engraved on his rings when he made his remarkable entrance into the great hall of the Palais des Festivals in 2018.
“In this life, I have lived,” he wrote in a long statement (see full version below), “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 the 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, Brooklyn-based director Spike Lee returned to the Competition with BlacKkKlansman and offered up glaring proof of his still undiminished anger and virtuosity. By turns a scathing comedy, detective thriller and political tract, the film was garnered the Grand Prix followed by the director’s first Oscar for one of his films.
On behalf of the Festival de Cannes, its Board of Directors and its teams, Pierre Lescure, President, and Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate, are delighted to welcome both the artist and the man:
“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!”
Spike Lee will succeed Alejandro G. Iñárritu, whose Jury, in 2019, awarded the Palme d’Or to Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, which continues to be a smash hit in cinemas around the world and has just won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.
The Cannes Film Festival will take place from Tuesday 12 to Saturday 23 May 2020. The Official Selection and the composition of the Jury will be revealed in mid-April.
Spike Lee’s statement in full
“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 the 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.
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 the 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.
Peace and Love,”
Da People’s Republic Of Brooklyn, New York.
Born in Atlanta in 1957 but raised in Brooklyn, New York City, Shelton Jackson Lee considers himself first and foremost a writer – he works almost exclusively on his own screenplays. The maverick of US cinema stamped his personality on the cinema scene from the very beginning: bold and daring subjects, sharp direction, punchy dialogues, a mastery of sustained rhythm, and the perfect soundtrack to accompany each film.
A fascinating mix of genres that his filmography has constantly reflected for nearly 30 years since his first film in 1986, She’s Gotta Have It. A sentimental satire in the guise of a sociological documentary, this inventive treasure trove set a pioneering tone. His subsequent feature films – Do the Right Thing in 1989 followed two years later by Jungle Fever – were shot through with New York’s urban culture. Both were fixtures on the red carpet at Cannes, where they blew audiences away with their brilliant acuity and corrosive humor.
Behind his outsize glasses, Spike Lee’s determined gaze captures the issues of his time, such as machismo and the herd instinct (Summer of Sam), the representation of Afro-Americans in the media (The Very Black Show) or the loss of moral values (She Hate Me). Although he situates his stories in American society, he goes well beyond its confines to transcend borders and deliver a universal discourse on tolerance, fraternity (Get on the Bus) or forgiveness (He Got Game). Whether in a biopic (Malcolm X), a poem (The 25th Hour) or a thriller in the purest Hollywood tradition (Inside Man), Spike Lee asserts his expertise not just in fiction but also in the documentary (4 Little Girls, Katrina).
His work reflects the man who looks like an eternal teenager who’s never seen without his sneakers and cap: facetious and turbulent, voluble and provocative, occasionally enraged, always engaged.
As a pioneer, Spike Lee paved the way for a new generation of African-American directors such as Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) Jordan Peele (Get Out), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Ava DuVernay (Selma).
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