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Director Steven Spielberg will head the 2013 Cannes Film Festival jury, organizers announced on Thursday in France.
The Lincoln director will be the jury president for the 66th annual festival and will help decide the winners of the prestigious Palme D’Or and other prizes. In a statement, festival president Gilles Jacob called Spielberg a “Cannes ‘regular.’”
“...It was with E.T. that I screened as a world premiere in ‘82 that ties were made of the type you never forget,” Jacob added. “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!’”
Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate of the Festival, explained that Spielberg had hoped to do this two years ago, but was not able to accept the invitation until this year. “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,” Frémaux said.
Spielberg also recalled that festival in 1982, when E.T. was screened. “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,” he said.
As The Los Angeles Times notes, Spielberg is the latest American to head the jury. Robert DeNiro, Tim Burton and Sean Penn have all been Cannes jury presidents in the past. Italian director Nanni Moretti was jury president in 2012.
Spielberg’s Lincoln was up for 12 Oscars on Sunday and ended up winning two, including Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. Spielberg has won Best Director twice - for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.
The 66th Cannes Festival takes place May 15-26.