Academy Award winner Whitaker follows Jodie Foster in receiving the award, which is given out as a tribute to those figures whose artistic careers are matched by humanitarian commitments. Jeanne Moreau, Bernardo Bertolucci and Manoel de Oliveira are among the previous recipients.
“Thirty-four 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,” he said. “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.”
Whitaker previous won Best Actor at Cannes for his role in Bird. He is also known for starring in The Color of Money, Platoon and Good Morning, Vietnam among others and winning a Best Actor Oscar for The Last King of Scotland.
“It is a tradition for the Festival de Cannes to honor those who made its history and Forest Whitaker is one of them”, adds Pierre Lescure, Festival de Cannes President. “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. The full honors belong to Whitaker. This Palme d’or is a gesture of gratitude from the world of cinema.”
Whitaker will also be in Cannes to present For the Sake of Peace, a film about the young, warring country South Sudan that he has produced. Christophe Castagne and Thomas Sametin directed the film, which gets a special screening on Wednesday May 18.