DIRECTOR Steven Spielberg is to be the new president of the Cannes Film Festival jury – 31 years after his blockbuster E.T. got its world premiere there in 1982.
And it was with the words “E.T. phone home!” that he confirmed to festival president Gilles Jacob that he could head the jury judging the films.
Spielberg said: “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 honor and a privilege to preside over the jury of a festival that proves, again and again, that cinema is the language of the world.”
Festival general delegate Thierry Frémaux said: “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 filmmakers. We are very proud to count him among us.”
Cannes has played a key part in Spielberg’s career as the first film he made for cinema, Sugarland Express was selected for competition in 1974 and won Best Screenplay.
He says of himself “I dream for a living” and in his 40-year career he has made 27 films including Jaws (1975); Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Color Purple (1986), Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler’s List (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Minority Report (2002), Catch Me If You Can (2002), War of the Worlds (2005), or The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (2011), his first film in 3D.
Spielberg had asked that news of his Cannes plans be kept quiet until after last weekend’s Oscars ceremony, where he lost out on Best Director award for Lincoln.
He follows Quentin Tarantino (2004), Sean Penn (2008), Tim Burton (2010) and Robert De Niro (2011) as Hollywood legends leading the Cannes jury.
Photo: Romain Dubois