Spike Lee’s historic stint as the first Black president of the jury at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival included a shocking snafu as he announced the final winner early.
On Saturday (July 17th), the acclaimed director was asked by the host of the awards ceremony, French actress Toria Diller to announce the “first prize” of the festival. Apparently, Lee took the question to mean “first place” and prematurely announced that Titane, was the winner of the Palme d’Or. The slip-up caused quite a commotion, as seen on French network Canal Plus’ coverage of the moment.
The 74-year old director is taking it all in stride, saying that he “messed up, simple as that” when talking about the gaffe in a press conference after the ceremony. “I’m a big sports fan. I’m like the guy at the end of the game who misses a free throw or a kick. No apologies. The people of Titane said ‘forget about it Spike’, that means a lot to me,” the director continued. Fellow juror and actor/filmmaker Maggie Gyllenhaal said that the announcement slip “was like an injection of humanity into the middle of the ceremony.” Lee laughed and responded that he expected that he’d make the cover of the New York Post the next morning.
Titane, directed by French filmmaker Julia Ducournau, marks the first time in 28 years that a movie helmed by a woman has won the coveted Palme d’Or. The announcement was one of many surprising highlights throughout the festival, with many feeling this has added new electricity to it. “It’s taxing but we’re here because we love cinema. It’s a great honor to be on the jury this year, especially after COVID-19,” Lee added at the end of the conference. “This is historic – besides me f*cking up – this is historic.”