Spike Lee to Be the First Black Cannes Film Festival Jury President – Again

Early last year, Spike Lee was all set to make Cannes history. The Da 5 Bloods filmmaker was going to be the first African-American to serve as jury president for the Cannes Film Festival, at its 73rd annual fest taking place in May 2020. Then the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit. And the prestigious film festival — after several delays and talks of a virtual version — was canceled. Now, nearly a year later, Cannes is taking another stab at holding its film festival, and has invited Lee to serve as jury president again. Hopefully this time, he’ll be able to (rightfully) preside.

The Cannes Film Festival announced that Lee will serve as this year’s jury president, praising the director, screenwriter, editor, and producer as “an astute chronicler of the questionings of his time, with a resolutely contemporary approach that’s never without a dash of levity and entertainment.”

“Throughout the months of uncertainty we’ve just been through, Spike Lee has never stopped encouraging us. This support is finally coming to fruition and we could not have hoped for a more powerful personality to chart our troubled times,” said President of the Festival Pierre Lescure in a statement.

“His enthusiasm and passion for cinema has given us a huge boost of energy to prepare the great Festival that everybody has been awaiting for. The party will be great, we simply can’t wait! “added Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate.

In a video call (seen below) with Fremaux, Lee said he will always have a “deep, deep spot for Cannes in (his) heart.”

“I have a special place in (his) heart for Paris, for France,” Lee said. “Way back in 1986, my very first film She’s Gotta Have It played there and it was my introduction to the world of cinema…. Book my flight now, my wife and I are coming!”

Lee was on track to preside over last year’s festival, where his film Da 5 Bloods was intended to play out of competition, before it was canceled due to the pandemic. He vowed to return to the French Riviera-set festival if given the opportunity.

The upcoming 74th annual Cannes Film Festival was initially set to take place May 11 through 22, but was pushed back as France weathered a second wave of COVID-19 cases. The festival will now take place from July 6 through 17, 2021 on the Croisette. In the article announcing Lee’s acceptance of grand jury president, the festival said, “preparations are in full swing with a large numbers of films which are being viewed by the selection committee.

More details about the 74th festival will be unveiled in the coming weeks. The Official Selection and the full jury will be unveiled in early June. Spike Lee will award the Palme d’Or at the closing ceremony on Saturday, July 17.

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