Spike Lee has been named jury president of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, which will be held May 12-23. The announcement comes two years after Lee’s last film “BlackKklansman” premiered to a standing ovation at the 2018 edition of the festival.

“In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere. 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,” Lee said in a statement.

“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,” the Festival’s board said in a statement. “Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of President of the Jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!”

In addition to the premiere’s standing ovation, “BlackKklansman” also won the Cannes Grand Prix award, the festival’s second-highest honor. But it was only the latest triumph at Cannes, something Lee noted in his statement. “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,” he said.

“It started way back in 1986 – my first feature film ‘She’s Gotta Have It,’ which won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight. The next joint was in 1989 – ‘Do The Right Thing,’ an Official Selection in Competition. And I don’t have the time nor space to write about the cinematic explosion that jumped off, still relative to this, 30 years later,” he continued.

“Then ‘Jungle Fever’ 1991 – Official Selection in Competition, ‘Girl 6’ 1996 – Official Selection out of Competition, ‘Summer Of Sam’ 1999 – Director’s Fortnight, ‘Ten Minutes Older’ 2002 – Official Selection in Un Certain Regard and then ‘BlacKkKlansman’ 2018 – Official Selection in Competition where it won the Grand Prix, which became the launching pad for the world theatrical release which led to my Academy Award for screenplay. So if you were keeping score that’s 7 Spike Joints to be chosen.”

Lee added that he is “honored to be the first person of the African diaspora (USA) to be named President of the Cannes Jury and of a main film festival.”

“The Lee family sincerely thanks the Festival de Cannes, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux and the great people of France who have supported my film career throughout four decades,” the director concluded “I will always treasure this special relationship.”

More to come…