Introduced in 1955 by the festival’s organizing committee, the Palme d’Or is the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival and is widely considered one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry.
In a press release, Whitaker recalled attending the festival over 30 years ago and how receiving the honor is a full-circle moment.
“Thirty-four years ago, attending Cannes for the first time changed my life, and assured me that I’d made the right decision to devote myself to finding connectivity in humanity through film,” he said. “It’s always a privilege to return to this beautiful festival to both screen my own work, and to be inspired by many of the world’s greatest artists—and I feel incredibly honored to be celebrated as part of the Festival’s momentous 75th anniversary.”
“It is a tradition for the Festival de Cannes to honor those who made its history and Forest Whitaker is one of them”, adds Pierre Lescure, Festival de Cannes President. “He is this young actor that Clint Eastwood revealed in Bird and that man who broadens his view of the world to offer it to those who suffer and those who fight. The full honors belong to Whitaker. This Palme d’or is a gesture of gratitude from the world of cinema.”
Over the course of his remarkable career, Whitaker has starred in Good Morning, Vietnam, The Crying Game, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, The Great Debaters, The Butler, Black Panther, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Story, Respect. In 2006, he won a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Ugandan ruler Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. He’s also directed the films Waiting to Exhale, Hope Floats and First Daughter.
During this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Whitaker will also present For the Sake of Peace, a film that he had produced about the warring country of South Sudan. Directed by Christophe Castagne and Thomas Sametin, the film will be screened on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.