Spike Lee, a US director has accepted to head the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in July. Lee said he was “very humbled”.
“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, so Cannes will always have a deep, deep spot in my heart,” Lee said.
Lee, 63, has been a fixture at Cannes over the years, premiering seven of his films there and winning the second-place Grand Prix in 2018 for BlacKkKlansman about a black police officer infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan.
“Throughout the months of uncertainty we’ve just been through, Spike Lee has never stopped encouraging us,” said festival president Pierre Lescure in a statement.
“We could not have hoped for a more powerful personality to chart our troubled times.”
With a back-catalogue that has thrown a spotlight on issues of race and politics in the US, Lee was seen as a symbolic choice at a time when the French film industry has been mired in controversies over the representation of minorities.
Lee has tried his hand at many genres, but is best known for films that put the African-American experience front and centre.
“I have a special place in my heart for Paris, for France and for the Cannes Film Festival… Book my flight!” he said in the Twitter message.
The official selection for this year’s festival, along with the rest of the jury are due to be named in early June.