The 66-year-old auteur has been named jury president at the 66th Cannes Film Festival, the fest's organizers announced Wednesday. This year's cine-confab, which takes over the famed Croisette, unspools May 15-26.
Although it's Spielberg's first time heading up the jury, the auteur has been a familiar Cannes fixture since the beginning of his career: His debut film, Sugarland Express, screened there in 1974 and snagged the award for best screenplay.
Eight years later, E.T. was named the festival's closing-night selection, and The Color Purple also made a pit stop in Cannes in 1986, where it was shown as a noncompeting title.
"The memory of my first Cannes Film Festival, nearly 31 years ago with the debut of E.T., is still one of the most vibrant memories of my career," Spielberg said in a statement on the fest's website.
"My admiration for the steadfast mission of the Festival to champion the international language of movies is second to none," he added. "The most prestigious of its kind, the festival has always established the motion picture as a cross cultural and generational medium."
The festival's president, Gilles Jacob, was equally elated that Spielberg, who'd reportedly been approached several times to lead the jury, finally accepted.
"When this year I was told 'E.T., phone home,' I understood and immediately replied: 'At last!'" he said in a statement.