Spike Lee has been named Jury President for the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
The Oscar winning writer was initially scheduled to serve as Jury President for last year’s festival, but due to the Coronavirus upset, which brought the festival to a pause, his role became dysfunctional.
“Loyal to his commitments, the American director promised to support the festival on its return to the Croisette,” the Cannes festival said in a statement. “Prevented last year due to the health crisis, the Festival de Cannes inaugurates this new decade with an outstanding president of the jury, one of the greatest directors of his generation, as well as a screenwriter, actor, editor and producer. For 30 years, the tireless Spike Lee has been an astute chronicler of the questionings of his time, with a resolutely contemporary approach that’s never without a dash of levity and entertainment.”
Lee’s appointment makes him the first black man to head the international week-long ceremony, which also doubles as the biggest film festival in the world.
Unlike past years, this year’s festival will take place in July (6 – 7) away from the original calendar, which places it in May every year.
The Hollywood Reporter hints that, the festival’s Marche du Film, the film market that traditionally runs alongside the Cannes festival, will be held earlier, in its usual May slot, in an online-only version.
Official selection and details on how the festival will run will be unveiled in June, organizers disclose.
Lee joins a long slate of past Jury Presidents, which include some of Hollywood favourites, Sean Penn (2008), Isabelle Huppert (2009), Robert De Niro (2011), Steven Spielberg (2013), Cate Blanchett (2018), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (2019).
“Throughout the months of uncertainty, we’ve just been through, Spike Lee has never stopped encouraging us,” said Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux. “This support is finally coming to fruition and we could not have hoped for a more powerful personality to chart our troubled times. His enthusiasm and passion for cinema has given us a huge boost of energy to prepare the great festival that everybody has been waiting for. We simply can’t wait!”