Cinema’s role as a mirror of reality, rather than an escape, was highlighted in the winning selection presented at Sunday’s award ceremony, closing an edition marred by the Manchester bombings, fraught international relations and tighter security measures.
Pedro Almodóvar’s jury was composed of French cinematographic polymath Agnès Jaoui, American actors Jessica Chastain and Will Smith, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, German director Maren Ade, South Korean director Park Chan-wook, Italian director Paolo Sorrentino and French composer Gabriel Yared.
“Cinema has neither gender, nor flag nor borders,” noted Italian-born Bellucci at the ceremony. Emphasized at the subsequent press conference for this anniversary edition was the ongoing need for a more diverse range of storytellers, particularly women.
Jaoui expressed disappointment at the paucity of films passing the Bechdel test, which rates the active presence of female characters in fiction. Chastain and Ade stressed authenticity and growing numbers while Fan said they “wanted to encourage more female filmmakers to show more female characters.”
“A couple black folks wouldn’t hurt either,” added Smith.
Notably, neither Netflix-backed features, the ecological tale “Okja” and the comedy “The Meyerowitz Stories,” received any distinctions from the Almodóvar-led jury. At the opening ceremony, the Spanish filmmaker said there would be a “huge paradox if a [movie awarded the] Palme d’Or or any other prize were not available in theaters,” prompting festival organizers to demand theatrical release for any competing features as of the 2018 edition.
The Palme d’Or went to Sweden’s Ruben Östlund for “The Square,” an art-world satire about a museum curator — played by “The Bridge’s” Claes Bang — who has his iPhone stolen and subsequently goes subtly off the rails. Bang’s dysfunctional character serves as the darkly comedic focus to a world adrift without moral anchors.
Winning respectively the jury prize and the grand prix, considered the festival’s second and third place, were Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless” and Robin Campillo’s “BPM” (“Beats Per Minute”).
“Loveless” (“Nelyubov” in Russian) follows the dark hours of a divorcing couple searching for their missing son and caught in the relentless maw of Russian administration. Collecting his award, Zvyagintsev thanked the jury and in particular Will Smith, who “really exists.”
Campillo, who received a quasi-standing ovation from the audience for his exploration of the late Eighties and Nineties rise of French AIDS-activist organization Act Up, dedicated his win to “those who have died but even more to those [AIDS and HIV patients] who are still here.”
“You Were Never Really Here” star Joaquin Phoenix appeared shocked by his win of the best actor gong, arriving on stage in a pair of Converse sneakers and Stella McCartney suit to scoop his award for his portrayal of a former soldier in the crime drama cum psychological thriller.
Although she did not win the coveted top prizes, British filmmaker Lynne Ramsay scooped up a joint best screenplay for her script of “You Were Never Really Here,” along with Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou’s “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.”
The best actress honor went to Diane Kruger, who wore a black, off-the-shoulder Dior couture gown to collect her prize. In her well-received first starring role in her native language, the German-born actress stars in “In the Fade” by Fatih Akin as Katja, a woman seeking revenge after the deaths of her husband and son in a terror attack. She dedicated her award to anyone who “survived an act of terrorism and who is trying to pick up the pieces and go on living after having lost everything. Please know you are not forgotten.”
Appearing four times in the official selection, for her roles in competing features “The Killing of the Sacred Deer” and “The Beguiled,” special screening “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” and TV series “Top of the Lake,” Nicole Kidman scooped a special 70th anniversary prize for her work. The actress thanked the jury in a recorded message while Will Smith entertained the audience by imagining Kidman’s emotional reaction on stage.
Also absent from the ceremony, Sofia Coppola won Cannes’ best director award, becoming the second ever woman to do so. In a statement read by jury member Maren Ade, Coppola tipped her hat to Palme d’Or winner Jane Campion for being a role model.
The Caméra d’Or went to Léonor Serraille for “Jeune Femme (Montparnasse Bienvenüe)” which was presented in the Un Certain Regard selection.
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