Oscar-winning director Spike Lee made history after being named the first Black president of the jury of the Cannes Film Festival. In this distinguished new role, he’ll head nine artists and actors including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tahar Rahim, and Song Kang-ho who are assigned with voting on the prestigious Palm d’Or, according to Variety.
“Cannes is the world’s greatest film festival,” Lee said about his new appointment on Tuesday afternoon. “No disrespecting other film festivals.”
The Cannes Film Festival bestowed the honor upon Lee back in 2020 but because of Covid-19, the gala event was pushed back to 2021.
“In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere,” Lee wrote in a statement in 2020. “When I got the call that I was offered the opportunity to be President of Cannes Jury for 2020, I was shocked, happy, surprised, and proud all at the same time.”
Not only is Lee making history but he did it in grand fashion. The acclaimed director/producer turned heads with an incredible bespoke hot-pink suit with matching pink glasses. Donning the right accessories, he rocked a sharp black hat with custom Jordan 1s with his face on the tongue.
Lee first attended the festival when he released his classic debut film She’s Gotta Have It in 1986. And just because he is the president of the jury, it doesn’t mean that he won’t speak his mind about the experiences of Black people.
In response to a question from Chaz Ebert, widow of Roger Ebert, about how little has changed since he released Do the Right Thing in 1989, which debuted at Cannes the same year.
“When you see brother Eric Garner, when you see king George Floyd murdered, lynched, I think of Ray (Radio) Raheem,” Lee replied. “After 30-plus years, you’d think and hope that Black people would have stopped being hunted down like animals.”
The Cannes Film Festival runs from July 6-July 17th.