Jodie Foster to be guest of honour at Cannes
"Cannes is a festival to which I owe so much, it has completely changed my life," said Foster in the statement.
The two-time Oscar winner first walked the red carpet on the Cote d'Azur aged just 13 when she appeared in the Palme-winning "Taxi Driver" in 1976.
Seven of her films have played at the festival, including two that she directed: "The Beaver" in 2011 and "Money Monster" in 2016.
"Although I had directed before, my first time on the Croisette was a defining moment for me," she said.
Festival president Pierre Lescure said: "Her aura is unparalleled: she embodies modernity, the radiant intelligence of independence and the need for freedom."
Past winners of the honorary Palme include Bernardo Bertolucci, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Agnes Varda and Jane Fonda.
This year's festival has been postponed from its usual slot in May to July 6-17, and its jury is headed by US director Spike Lee.
Foster reluctantly turned down the jury presidency herself in 2001 because she was shooting a thriller with David Fincher, "Panic Room".
"I am flattered that Cannes thought of me and I am very honoured to be able to share a few words of wisdom or tell an adventure or two with a new generation of film-makers," she said in the statement.
Foster, a French-speaker and Francophile, has appeared in several films in the birthplace of cinema, including Claude Chabrol's "Le sang des autres" in 1984 and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 2004 film "Un long dimanche de fiancailles".
She is best known internationally for her Oscar-winning turn as Clarice Starling in 1991's "Silence of the Lambs".
The festival is due to announce its official selection for the competition on Thursday.