Forest Whitaker to Receive Cannes Film Festival’s Honorary Palme d’Or Award

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Forest Whitaker will receive the honorary Palme d’or at the opening ceremony of the 75th Cannes Film Festival, following the footsteps of Jodie Foster.

Previous Cannes Palme d’Or honorees include Jeanne Moreau, Bernardo Bertolucci, Manoel de Oliveira, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Agnès Varda, or Alain Delon. The award pays tribute to a “sparkling artistic journey, a rare personality as well as a discreet but strong humanitarian commitment to key topical issues,” said the festival.

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As part of the tribute, Christophe Castagne and Thomas Sametin’s movie “For the Sake of Peace,” which Whitaker produced, will play in the Special Screening section on May 18.

“34 years ago, attending Cannes for the first time changed my life, and assured me that I’d made the right decision to devote myself to finding connectivity in humanity through film,” said Whitaker. “It’s always a privilege to return to this beautiful festival to both screen my own work, and to be inspired by many of the world’s greatest artists – and I feel incredibly honored to be celebrated as part of the Festival’s momentous 75th anniversary,” added the Oscar-winning actor.

Whitaker previously won the best actor award at Cannes for his performance in Clint Eastwood’s “Bird.” Besides “Bird,” Whitaker also starred in three other movies which competed at the festival: Bill Duke’s “A Rage in Harlem,” Abel Ferrara’s “Body Snatchers” and Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.”

“When welcoming Forest Whitaker to Cannes, I was able to meet and admire an artist with intense charisma and a luminous presence”, said Thierry Frémaux, Cannes Film Festival’s topper. “His filmography is both dazzling and fully accomplished.”

Fremaux said he has “also observed closely his convictions as a man, and the attention he carries for the young generation.” He added that the actor and producer “contributes to making it a better place” through his “faith in a better world and his commitment.”

Pierre Lescure, who will be having his last edition as president of the Cannes Film Festival this year, said it was part of Cannes’ tradition to “honor those who made its history and Forest Whitaker is one of them.”

“He is this young actor that Clint Eastwood revealed in Bird and that man who broadens his view of the world to offer it to those who suffer and those who fight,” added Lescure.

The Cannes Film Festival will kick off May 17 with the world premiere of Michel Hazanavicius’s French zombie comedy “Final Cut.”

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