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  • Writer's pictureKayla Grant

Spike Lee becomes first African-American President of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival

Updated: Sep 4, 2020



Spike Lee visited Clark Atlanta University to express gratitude to an influential professor after it was announced that he will be the first Black President of the Jury for the 73rd annual Cannes Film Festival. The Cannes Film Festival is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres. “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. You could easily say Cannes changed the trajectory of who I became in world cinema,” Lee wrote in a statement. Lee’s involvement with the Cannes Film Festival started in 1986 with his first feature film “She’s Gotta Have It.” In the following years, Lee has had six other films be chosen for the film festival. “All I can say is that I’m very honored to get that call,” Lee said. “I just want to continue to make films.” The filmmaker expressed the importance of remembering the people and ancestors who have made it possible for him to be who he is today. He said that he instills in his students at New York University to be thankful to the people who came before them and value the history because film did not start with them. “There’s always people before you … I mean, we are standing on people’s shoulders,” Lee said. One of the people that Spike Lee always remembers to give gratitude to is Herbert Eichelberger, a professor of film at Clark Atlanta University.


“This is where I become a filmmaker with that man, right there, Dr. Herbert Eichelberger,” he stated. The Atlanta University Center is where Lee’s career began. The Morehouse alumnus did not have a major or even think about becoming a filmmaker until the summer before his junior year. “It all started here. Every time I could make it, I come back to give my man a hug,” Lee gratefully stated. “He is the one that encouraged me to do this.” The “BlacKkKlansman” director emphasized the support that he received from Eichelberger throughout his matriculation in the Atlanta University Center. “On days when Dr. E wasn’t scheduled to work he would come in to open up the film lab for me … he did it on his own,” Lee recalled. “It all started here.”

 

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This article is published in Volume 1: Issue 1 of the Diamond Magazine.

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