The renowned Cannes Film Festival has quite a jury this year, led by Cannes star and multiple award winning director Spike Lee. Lee has a long history with the festival and cites it as one of the key sources of his ongoing success. This year he will be the head of the jury, which will be announced in full in April, and will present the Palme dO’r award to close the festival.
The Cannes Film Festival, which takes place from May 12-23, is a hotbed of creativity and innovation for independent film. Many cult and art house directors have their careers kicked off at Cannes or other major festivals like Toronto or Sundance. Lee is no exception, as he states that “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.”
His first film, She’s Gotta Have It, won the Prix de la Jeunesse at Cannes in 1986. Lee’s most recent film, BlacKkKlansman, won the Grand Prix in 2018. In total, 7 of the films of his career have been recognized at Cannes, making him an internationally known film director.
With the recent Oscar nominations sharply lacking in diversity, Cannes is making steps to increase the diversity in its selections and its jury. It still has much progress to be made though, with only one black female director to ever have been featured in the festival’s history. Lee’s appointment as president for the upcoming year may help change that and introduce new talent and perspectives to the film industry.