Steven Spielberg has been named jury president of France's 66th Festival de Cannes, organizers announced Thursday.

"My admiration for the steadfast mission of the festival to champion the international language of movies is second to none. The most prestigious of its kind, the festival has always established the motion picture as a cross-cultural and generational medium," thee Hollywood filmmaker said in a statement on the festival's website.

"As they say across the Atlantic, Steven Spielberg is a Cannes 'regular': 'Sugarland Express,' 'The Color Purple.' But it was with 'E.T.' that I screened as a world premiere in '82 that ties were made of the type you never forget. Ever since, I've often asked Steven to be jury president, but he's always been shooting a film," said Gilles Jacob, the festival's president. "So when this year I was told, 'E.T., phone home,' I understood and immediately replied, 'At last!'"

"Steven Spielberg accepted in principle two years ago," said Thierry Fremaux, the festival's general delegate. "He was able to make himself available this year to be the new jury president and when meeting him these last few weeks, it has been obvious he's excited about the job. Because of his films, and the many causes he holds dear, he's year-in, year-out the equal of the very greatest Hollywood filmmakers. We are very proud to count him among us."

The 2013 edition of the festival is to take place May 15-26.