"My admiration for the steadfast mission of the Festival to champion the international language of movies is second to none," Spielberg said. "The most prestigious of its kind, the festival has always established the motion picture as a cross cultural and generational medium."
One of the festival's organizers revealed that they had been trying to appoint Spielberg to the position a few years ago, but it wasn't until this year that his schedule allowed him to undertake the prestigious duty.
"Steven Spielberg accepted in principle two years ago," general delegate Thierry Frémaux said. "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."
Spielberg, who will be replacing Italian director and actor Nanni Moretti, has a unique history with the Cannes Film Festival.
In 1974, he was nominated for both Best Screenplay (won) and the esteemed Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award (lost) for his first feature film, The Sugarland Express. Eight years later, Spielberg's now-iconic film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial premiered at the festival, which is a moment he still holds dear.
"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," the Lincoln director said. "...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."