The 60-year-old actor feels “incredibly honoured” about being presented with the prestigious gong at the upcoming spectable, which will take place from May 17 to 28.
“Thirty-four years ago, attending Cannes for the first time changed my life, and assured me that I’d made the right decision to devote myself to finding connectivity in humanity through film,” said Whitaker.
“It’s always a privilege to return to this beautiful festival to both screen my own work and to be inspired by many of the world’s greatest artists – and I feel incredibly honoured to be celebrated as part of the festival’s momentous 75th anniversary.”
This is awarded to those stars whose artistic careers are matched by their humanitarian commitments.
Previous winners have included Clint Eastwood, Jodie Foster and Jane Fonda.
Pierre Lescure, Festival de Cannes president, added: “It is a tradition for the Festival de Cannes to honour those who made its history and Forest Whitaker is one of them.
“He is this young actor that Clint Eastwood revealed in ‘Bird’ and that man who broadens his view of the world to offer it to those who suffer and those who fight.
“The full honours belong to Whitaker. This Palme d’Or is a gesture of gratitude from the world of cinema.”