BlacKkKlansman, which is based on a true story about a black man infiltrating the violent KKK, won the Grand Prix (the Cannes' second-most prestigious prize) at the film festival.
"I take this on the behalf of the People’s Republic of Brooklyn, New York," said Lee at the ceremony, according to Vulture. His last film shown at Cannes was 1991's Jungle Fever. The first-place prize, or the Palme d'Or, went to Japanese director Hirozaku Kore-eda's Shoplifters, but BlacKkKlansman certainly left its mark.
“Obviously, this is an international film festival,” said this year's jury leader Cate Blanchett, according to IndieWire. "We talked a lot about when a film transcends the limitations of its culture. Spike has made a film that is quintessentially about an American crisis and yet all of us felt connected to it. That, we felt, really elevated its importance even more."
Ava DuVernay, who sat on the eight-person jury, also praised the film. "As an African American filmmaker, I was completely taken by the film," she said. "I’ve imbibed every film he’s ever made. It was startling and stunning. But when I walked into the jury room, I decided to listen to my jury members. It was a robust dialogue...emotion and energy from these artists from all over the world."
She also added that there "were questions specifically about the African-American experience and this moment we’re in, in America," but noted the jurors were "united by the love of cinema."
BlacKkKlansman, which stars John David Washington, Adam Driver, and Topher Grace, arrives in theaters on Aug. 10.