Lee accidentally revealed the winner at the start of the ceremony and later said he "messed up, simple as that."

By Joey Nolfi
July 17, 2021 at 05:28 PM EDT
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Spike Lee mistakenly did the wrong thing at the top of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival awards ceremony.

The acclaimed filmmaker accidentally revealed the winner of the festival's top prize — the prestigious Palme d'Or — at the start of the ceremony, after what appeared to be his misunderstanding of a question from the show's host, actress Toria Dillier, who prompted him to reveal the "first prize."

"The film that won the Palme d'Or is Titane," said Lee, this year's jury president, after standing to read from a notecard. Fellow jury member Melanie Laurent immediately stuck out her arm to prevent Lee from reading the name, but it was too late. Dillier also shouted, "Wait, wait!" from the podium as the audience gasped.

Deadline noted that, at a post-show press conference, Lee said he "messed up, simple as that" in the moment: "I'm a big sports fan. I'm like the guy at the end of the game who misses a free throw or a kick. No apologies. The people of Titane said 'forget about it Spike', that means a lot to me," the outlet reported.

Raw helmer Julia Ducournau's Titane — about a serial killer who becomes impregnated by a car — is only the second film directed by a woman to receive the Palme d'Or in Cannes history, an honor it shares with Jane Campion's 1993 film The Piano. Still, France's Ducournau, 37, is the only solo woman to win the award, as Campion finished that year's competition in a tie with Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine).

Watch Lee's gaffe above, and see the full list of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival award winners here.

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