Acclaimed director Spike Lee will head to this year's Cannes Film Festival as the first black president of its jury. "I'm 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 "Do The Right Thing" director said in a statement.
Though Lee has never won a Palm D'or, after a 22-year absence from the competition, Lee's 2018 film "BlackKklansman," took home the second-highest honor, the Grand Prix. The film, which is based on a true story of an African-American undercover police officer who infiltrated the Klan, also led to the director winning his first Academy Award.
Lee's designation as president of the jury comes after top award shows face criticism over their lack of diversity.
In years past, Lee has been very outspoken about the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations, supporting the #OscarsSoWhite protests by refusing to attend the 2016 Academy Awards. "My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It," he said at the time. "How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?"
This year's Oscar nominations again received backlash for a lack of diversity, with the majority of acting nominees being white and female directors being shut out of the major directing category.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, also known as BAFTA, also faced criticism this year after all of the actors nominated for the prestigious film awards were white. The 73rd Festival de Cannes will take place from May 12 to May 23.