Steven Spielberg Heads 2013 Cannes Film Festival Jury; Says Its 'An Honor and A Privilege'

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Organizers for the Cannes Film Festival in France announced on Thursday that Steven Spielberg will head this year's jury panel.

The festival's president Gilles Jacob had reportedly tried for many years to get the acclaimed director to serve as the president of the award jury and the news that Spielberg finally decided to take the gig made Jacob very excited.

"When this year I was told 'E.T., phone home,' I understood and immediately replied: 'At last!' " Jacob said.

The 66-year-old director had several films that appeared at Cannes. Spielberg's first film Sugarland Express won best screenplay at Cannes in 1974 and the classic E.T. had its world premiere there in 1982, according to The New York Times.

The award-winning director commented on the event and his new role this year in a statement posted on the Cannes festival website: "For over six decades, Cannes has served as a platform for extraordinary films to be discovered and introduced to the world for the first time. 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."

Spielberg will take over the duties of Italian Nanni Moretti at the film festival that takes place annually at the French Mediterranean resort.

Michael Haneke won the top prize of the coveted Palme d'Or last year with his film Amour, which won the Best Foreign Film award at the 2013 Oscars. Spielberg won the Oscar for Schindler's List in 1994 and Saving Private Ryan in 1999. His film Lincoln was nominated at the Academy Awards this year for Best Picture and Spielberg was up for a Best Director award for his work on the film.

The 66th Cannes festival will start on May 15 and run through until May 26.

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