Spielberg, Lee: Mutual ‘worship’ in Cannes

Directors Ang Lee, left, Lynne Ramsay and Steven Spielberg serve on the feature film jury at Cannes Film Festival.

CANNES, France — The Cannes Film Festival has one of the most star-studded juries in recent years, with Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz serving as members.

But all eyes are on the interaction between jury president Steven Spielberg and his fellow jury member, director Ang Lee.

Both directors competed for a 2013 Oscar with Spielberg’s Lincoln competing with Lee’s Life of Pi. There are no bigger stakes in Hollywood.

But three months after the February Oscar ceremony (in which Lee won for best director), mutual love is in the air along the Riviera.

“Steven and I are friends,” Lee said in a press conference on Wednesday. “I worship him. I don’t know how he feels about me.”.

Spielberg repaid the compliment: “I worship Life of Pi and therefore I worship Ang Lee as well.”.

“Ang and I have known each other for a long time,” Spielberg added. “We have never been competitive. We have always been colleagues. That will just continue.”.

Spielberg subtly followed up the compliment later that night night when introducing the festival jury before the premiere of The Great Gatsby. The director used his pulpit to refer to Lee as “maestro.”.

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The festival in the south of France is sort of a haven away from the politics of filmmaking. The prospect of working with Spielberg, and good timing in film schedules, prompted Lee (and Kidman) to sign up for the jury.

When asked about sitting alongside a sometime competitor, Lee thought long and hard.

“To me they are very different things. Oscars is something else,” Lee said drawing a line between the festival and awards life. “We’re directors. We’re leaders of the pack. We have to support everyone who works so hard in movies.”.

Spielberg added that he, too, was happy to work for the next 10 days with Lee away from the Hollywood business.

“There’s no campaigning. It’s such a relief that we are going to be seeing movies and deliberating a final result,” said Spielberg. “That’s a breath of fresh air for me.”.

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