Film festivals go hand in glove with the movie industry. In multiple instances films that earned the top prize at prestigious film festivals went on to Oscar glory. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and last year’s GREEN BOOK both won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival and then went on to much success at the Oscars. Film festivals can serve as a true coming out party for rising talent. Quentin Tarantino‘s PULP FICTION famously won the Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival and in case you’ve been at a Big Kahuna Burger for the last quarter century, you know he went on to a pretty solid career.
Another director with a storied relationship with the Cannes Film Festival is director Spike Lee. One of his first films, DO THE RIGHT THING, competed at Cannes over 30 years ago. In addition, Lee’s 2018 movie BLACKkKLANSMAN won the Grand Prix award. Lee will continue that solid relationship as the storied director has just been named the festival’s first ever black jury president for the 73rd annual Cannes Film Festival. Lee takes over for Oscar winning director Alejandro Inarritu.
Spike Lee, who won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, was both surprised and grateful for the opportunity:
“In this life I have lived…my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere. 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.”
Cannes president Pierre Lescure and festival director Thierry Fremaux also expressed their excitement at Lee’s selection, believing Lee’s intensity will be just the shot in the arm the festival needs stating, “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!”
This year’s festival is scheduled to take place from May 12 to May 23 in Cannes, France. It’s also entirely possible that Lee’s upcoming Netflix film DA 5 BLOODS may compete at the festival. I have to say this is a well deserved accomplishment for Spike Lee. While not all of his films have been critical or commercial darlings over the years, the sixty-two year old director remains a unique and powerful voice in the film industry. Here’s hoping audiences will get to enjoy many more of Lee’s films in the years to come.