Meet Forest Whitaker, winner of the Honorary Palme d’or at the 75th Festival de Cannes

Press conference of Forest Whitaker

Using a soft voice and subtle gestures, Forest Whitaker gave a press conference before receiving the Honorary Palme d'or. With just a few hours to go before the Opening Ceremony of the 75th Festival de Cannes, the actor, producer and director answered the journalists' questions.

Forest Whitaker looked back on his first time participating at Cannes. It was in 1988 for his role as Charlie Parker in Bird by Clint Eastwood, which won him the Best Actor Award.

I was acknowledged as an artist for the first time internationally. It was indescribable. I was 27 years old, just an idealistic kid who had never given an interview and didn't know how to respond. But I tried to put everything into this role. I worked hard, and I received the most wonderful gift I could ever hope for here. The Festival enabled me to be recognized and respected throughout the world.

An actor as well as a producer, Forest Whitaker works to support aspiring directors he considers promising.

I am going to produce more and more films by young directors. Fruitvale Station by Ryan Coogler was one of the first produced by my company. Then there was Songs my Brothers Taught Me by Chloé Zhao. I'm happy to have helped young directors make their voices heard.

In 2012, the artist created a foundation called the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative. It provides support and training throughout the world on issues related to precarious situations, security, and the climate.

We try to create partnerships on-site. I am clearly aware of what is happening in the world. Our role is to listen to people, understand them, and respond to their needs. As partners, our role is not to dictate what needs to be done, but rather to provide assistance.

As part of his commitments, Forest Whitaker has produced a documentary that will be shown tomorrow in Special Screenings: For The Sake of Peace, filmed in South Sudan.  The actor invited the directors Thomas Sametin and Christophe Castagne to join him on stage.

Thomas Sametin: We got this opportunity after having directed a series of portraits on peacemakers. We discovered incredible people who carry something bigger than all of us–peace. This opportunity allowed us to work alongside a tremendous actor and producer. Forest Whitaker is an amazing man.