“As they say across the Atlantic,” said Gilles Jacob, Cannes prexy, in a statement, “Steven Spielberg is a Cannes ‘regular’: ‘Sugarland Express,’ ‘Color Purple.’ But it was with ‘E.T.’ that I screened as a world premiere in ‘82 that ties were made of the type you never forget. Ever since, I’ve often asked Steven to be Jury President, but he’s always been shooting a film. So when this year I was told “E.T., phone home,” I understood and immediately replied: “At last!”
“Steven Spielberg accepted in principle two years ago,” said Cannes general delegate Thierry Fremaux. “He was able to make himself available this year to be the new Jury President and when meeting him these last few weeks it has been obvious he’s excited about the job. Because of his films, and the many causes he holds dear, he’s year-in year-out the equal of the very greatest Hollywood filmmakers. We are very proud to count him among us.”
“The memory of my first Cannes Film Festival, nearly 31 years ago with the debut of ‘E.T.,’ is still one of the most vibrant memories of my career,’ Spielberg said in the statement. “For over six decades, Cannes has served as a platform for extraordinary films to be discovered and introduced to the world for the first time. It is an honor and a privilege to preside over the jury of a festival that proves, again and again, that cinema is the language of the world.”
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In addition to “E.T.” screening in Cannes, Spielberg’s first theatrical release “The Sugarland Express” won best screenplay at the 1974 Cannes festival.
Jane Campion will head the shorts and Cinefondation jury, and India will be the featured country for the 66th edition of the festival, which runs May 15 to 26. Cannes topper Thierry Fremaux was in Los Angeles Monday for a luncheon honoring French Oscar nominees.