Steven Spielberg is headed for the Croisette in May to serve as president of the jury at the 66th festival, Gilles Jacob and Thierry Frémaux confirmed on Thursday .
Festival top brass also reiterated that Jane Campion will head the Cinéfondation and short film jury, while India will be the special guest country.
“My admiration for the steadfast mission of the festival to champion the international language of movies is second to none,” said Spielberg in a statement. “The most prestigious of its kind, the festival has always established the motion picture as a cross cultural and generational medium.”
“As they say across the Atlantic, Steven Spielberg is a Cannes regular: Sugarland Express, Color Purple,” said festival president Jacob. “But it was with E.T. that I screened as a world premiere in ‘82 that ties were made of the type you never forget. Ever since, I’ve often asked Steven to be jury president, but he’s always been shooting a film. So when this year I was told ‘E.T., phone home,’ I understood and immediately replied: ‘At last!’”
Steven Spielberg accepted in principle two years ago”, added Frémaux, who serves as the festival’s general delegate. “He was able to make himself available this year to be the new jury president and when meeting him these last few weeks it has been obvious he’s excited about the job. Because of his films, and the many causes he holds dear, he’s year-in year-out the equal of the very greatest Hollywood film-makers. We are very proud to count him among us.”
Spielberg added: “The memory of my first Cannes Film Festival, nearly 31 years ago with the debut of E.T., is still one of the most vibrant memories of my career. For over six decades, Cannes has served as a platform for extraordinary films to be discovered and introduced to the world for the first time. It is an honour and a privilege to preside over the jury of a festival that proves, again and again, that cinema is the language of the world.”
Spielberg’s first film, Sugerland Express, won the best screenplay prize in Cannes in 1974.
The Cannes Film Festival is scheduled to run from May 15-26.