It has been announced that, for the first time in his career, Steven Spielberg will head the jury at the 66th Cannes Film Festival. He has a strong relationship with the event that awards the coveted Palme D'Or and his films Sugarland Express, E.T. and The Color Purple have all premiered there.
As reported in the Guardian, Spielberg says "My admiration for the steadfast mission of the festival to champion the international language of movies is second to none. The most prestigious of its kind, the festival has always established the motion picture as a cross-cultural and generational medium."
He 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 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."
Cannes president Gilles Jacob said: "As they say across the Atlantic, Steven Spielberg is a Cannes 'regular' - Sugarland Express, Color Purple. 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!'"
Cannes general delegate Thierry Fremaux confirmed: "Steven Spielberg accepted in principle two years ago. 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."
The Cannes Film Festival runs this year between 15-26 May.
Find out more about the definitive monograph detailing Spielberg's spectacular career, Spielberg: A Retrospective by Richard Schickel, available now.