Director and activist Spike Lee will serve as jury president of the 73rd edition of the Cannes Film Festival.
Lee succeeds Alejandro G. Inarritu, 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.
Cannes president Pierre Lescure and festival director Thierry Fremaux 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 18 Oscar nominations.
Australian Associated Press