×

Spike Lee to Lead Cannes Film Festival Jury

Director and activist Spike Lee will serve as jury president of the 73rd edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Lee succeeds Alejandro G. Iñárritu, whose 2019 jury awarded the Palme d’Or to Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” which won a Golden Globe and was just nominated for six Oscars.

The Brooklyn-based director has had a strong relationship with Cannes dating back to the 1980s with “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Do the Right Thing,” which marked his first film playing in competition. His latest movie, “BlacKkKlansman,” competed at the festival in 2018 and won the Grand Prix. Weaving together comedic elements with a detective thriller and political saga, the critically acclaimed movie went on to earn Lee an Oscar nomination for best director, along with a flurry of awards.

“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,” said Lee, who’s championed many young filmmakers through his career, including Ladj Ly, whose feature debut “Les Miserables” competed at Cannes last year and was just nominated for the best international feature film Oscar.

“In this life I have lived…my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere,” added the filmmaker, who said that he was “shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time” when he was offered the opportunity to preside over the 2020 jury.

Popular on Variety

Cannes president Pierre Lescure and festival director Thierry Frémaux said in a joint statement that “Spike Lee’s perspective is more valuable than ever.”

“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!” said the festival toppers.

The next edition of the festival will take place May 12-23, while the official selection, as well as the rest of the jury, will be unveiled in mid-April.

The previous edition of Cannes is bearing fruit this awards season, with “Parasite,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Pain and Glory,” “Les Miserables” and “For Sama” all nominated for Oscars. In total, Cannes titles have garnered 20 Oscar nominations.

More Film

  • The Speech

    Charades Rolls Into EFM with Pre-Sales on 'The Rosemaker,' 'The Speech' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Charades, the sales firm launched three years ago by former execs at Wild Bunch, Gaumont and Studiocanal, will roll into the Berlinale’s European Film Market with a raft of pre-sales on anticipated French projects, including “The Rosemaker” with Catherine Frot and Laurent Tirard’s “The Speech.” Charades will unveil the promos of both films, as well [...]

  • Dexter Fletcher73rd British Academy Film Awards,

    'Rocketman' Filmmaker Dexter Fletcher to Direct 'The Saint' Reboot (EXCLUSIVE)

    After the success of its Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” Paramount has set filmmaker Dexter Fletcher to direct another high-profile project for the studio. Fletcher will helm “The Saint,” a reboot of its 1997 action thriller that starred Val Kilmer. The globe-trotting adventure is based on the 1920s novel series written by Leslie Charteris. Seth Grahame-Smith [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Jury Deliberations Begin in Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial

    Jury deliberations in the rape trial of Harvey Weinstein began Tuesday. After a six-week trial, a 12-member panel of New Yorkers will now decide if the former movie mogul goes free or spends the rest of his life behind bars. The case is considered to be a landmark moment for the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, [...]

  • Rory KennedyDiscovery 'Above and Beyond: NASA'S

    Boeing 737 Max Disaster Series in Works From Rory Kennedy, Imagine Documentaries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy is teaming with Imagine Entertainment for a new series about the tragedy and subsequent scandal over the defunct Boeing 737-Max airplane, sources tell Variety. Kennedy and her husband and producing partner, Emmy-nominated writer Mark Bailey, are teaming up with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s unscripted division at Imagine, run by Justin [...]

  • Otto Rehhagel, second from left, the

    Piece of Magic Takes Rights to Soccer Documentary 'King Otto'

    Piece of Magic Entertainment, the distributor behind recent docs “Apollo 11” and “Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love,” has picked up international theatrical distribution rights for the underdog sports tale “King Otto.” The doc follows the improbable path of the 2004 Greek National Soccer team, which went from never winning a single tournament match to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content