The Palme d’Or de Cannes goes to a director for the second time only | Cannes 2021

The Palme d’Or, the most prestigious of film festival awards, went to Titane, a nonconformist and violent film directed by 37-year-old French director Julia Ducournau.

In a chaotic ceremony, the prize was mistakenly announced early by jury chairman Spike Lee, who misunderstood a puzzling French instruction to describe the top prize winner. “English!” he exclaimed later in frustration, as jury member Tahar Rahim, star of the recent television series The Serpent, tried to explain what was wrong with Lee, the famous American director of the Do The Right Thing and Da Five Bloods.

When the right moment finally arrived, it was Sharon Stone who presented the first prize to Titanium with Lee. “She’s not going to ruin everything!” he said. In accepting the award, Ducournau said she suspected Lee may have a lot to do with the decision to give her the award.

President of the jury Spike Lee arrives on stage during the closing ceremony of the Cannes film festival. Photograph: Valéry Hache / AFP / Getty

The choice of Titanium, a French film that features a sex scene with a car, marked the end of a historic Cannes festival, postponed from last year and then held two months later than its usual date.

Titanium, chosen by a jury made up of actors Maggie Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Mylène Farmer and Kang Ho Song, as well as directors Mati Diop, Jessica Hausner and Kleber Mendonca Filho, ranked above other highly regarded favorites who had led the field of 24 films competing this year, such as a popular Moroccan youth and hip-hop film titled Casablanca Beats and A Hero, a film beloved by many critics from Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who at least shared the glory of the Grand Prix with a Finnish film.

The choice of winner will be unpopular with some, including Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, who viewed Titanium as “silly and unnecessary”. Others argued that it was the only truly adventurous choice for a jury chaired by a provocateur like Lee.

While the Cannes winner often fails to pack multiplexes across Britain, it’s worth remembering that there is sometimes a close connection between an arthouse winner at the festival and subsequent commercial success. . I by Ken Loach, Daniel Blake became a modest success in British cinemas after winning in 2016, and after Bong Joon-ho won in 2019 with the black satire Parasite, the South Korean director made history by winning the first Oscar for best film. for a non-English speaking entry.

The French film has also beaten top contenders such as Wes Anderson, who featured his star The French Dispatch in Cannes, Nanni Moretti, who gifted us his Three Floors, and Sean Penn, who directed himself and his girl in Flag Day, written by British playwright Jez Butterworth and starring Eddie Marsan.

Among the established French directors in the running for the coveted Palme at the 74th festival were Jacques Audiard, for Paris, 13th arrondissement, François Ozon for Everything went well and Mia Hanson’s film Love Bergman Island, with Tim Roth. Leos Carax also won over many fans with his opening musical Annette starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. The opening film of the festival, it was also one of the most discussed, containing a musical sex scene. More controversial was the Lesbian Nun Benedetta costume, from Total Recall director Paul Verhoeven. But neither of the two films made much noise during the closing phase of the 12-day film feast on the French Riviera, although Carax had great consolation in receiving the award for best director.

Lee told the audience at the Palais du Festival on the Croisette that he considered Cannes his “second home”, having visited for the first time in the late 1980s. The film festival, the largest in the world, was bound to be on a smaller scale this year. Nevertheless, several big names in the world of cinema came to walk the red carpet, including Bill Murray, Jodie Foster, Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Adjani, Tilda Swinton, Matt Damon and Sharon Stone.

Shared prizes were the order of the day. The Grand Prix went to both A Hero by Farhadi and the Finnish film Compartment No 6 by Juho Kuosmanen.

The Special Jury Prize was shared by Ahed’s Knee, an Israeli film, and Memoria, by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and was presented by Rosamund Pike, who is fluent in French. The Guardian critic will be happier with the choice of Memoria, to which he gave five stars.

The best actor was Caleb Landry Jones, who starred in Nitram, directed by Justin Kurzel. Best Actress went to Renate Reinsve for The Worst Person in the World, directed by Joachim Trier.

The members of the Cannes jury
The members of the Cannes jury Song Kang-ho, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jessica Hausner, Mati Diop, the president of the jury Spike Lee, Mélanie Laurent, Tahar Rahim and Mylène Farmer. Photograph: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

The best screenplay went to Drive My Car, co-written by Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe and adapted from a short story by Haruki Murakami.

The special winner of the short film was All the Ravens in the World, described as the “most daring” entry and directed by Yi Tang, a young director from Hong Kong.

The Camera d’Or award for best first feature went to Murina by Antonetta Alamat Kusjanovic, and an honorary Palme d’Or went to Italian director Marco Bellocchio.


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Dawn Valle

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