Imagine a world where Spike Lee was President of the United States. I mean, I’d say anything goes now that we have Donald “Orange Julius Geezer” Trump in the White House, so just imagine it. I can see it now: President Spike Lee at a press conference wilding out over Republican efforts to block his bill like, “Mitch McConnell better watch out, because I’m coming for his ass. I got my Louisville Slugger ready to take what’s left of his chin!”
Well, that won’t happen unless the 2020 election takes a plot twist to end all plot twists, but until then, I’m pretty damn excited about the news, reported by Vulture, that Lee has been named the first black jury president of the 2020 Cannes Film Festival.
As somewhat of a movie buff and someone who has Spike in my top 5 filmmakers of all time despite a handful of duds (I’m looking at you Girl 6 and Chi-Raq and Red Hook Summer), I can think of no one better than the man responsible for such cinematic gems as Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and Crooklyn to succeed Revenant director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who was the Cannes jury head last year.
Lee seems to be proud and excited, as well.
“To me, the Cannes Film Festival, besides being the most important film festival in the world—no disrespect to anybody, has had a great impact on my film career,” he said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “You could easily say Cannes changed the trajectory of who I became in world cinema.”
For those unfamiliar with Lee’s highs and lows relationship with the festival, a brief history:
Lee’s first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It, won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight, an independent section held in parallel to Cannes, in 1986, and, most recently, his film BlacKkKlansman won the Grand Prix in 2018. In total, the 62-year-old has had seven films screen at Cannes.
In 2008, Lee went all the way in on Clint Eastwood for his film Letters From Iwo Jima not having any black characters. Last year at the festival, he unabashedly called out Donald Trump for not disavowing the Ku Klux Klan.
And, of course, there was the comment I referenced earlier, which Lee made in 1989 directed at Wim Wenders, who was that year’s jury president, for choosing Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape over his own Do the Right Thing (which, to be fair, really was a crime). “Wim Wenders had better watch out cause I’m waiting for his ass,” Lee said per THR. “Somewhere deep in my closet, I have a Louisville Slugger bat with Wenders’ name on it.” Lee has since apologized for the rant saying “it was stupid” to react that way, but maintains (and rightfully so) that Do the Right Thing was robbed.
The rest of the jury for the Cannes Film Festival’s main competition will be announced in mid-April and the festival will take place from May 12 to 23. I hope they’re ready for their new black-ity black ass president, because I sure am.