“Titane”, by Julia Ducournau, received the Palme d’Or at the 74th Cannes Film Festival, whose honors were announced this Saturday afternoon.
Received from the hands of Sharon Stone, it is the second time in the history of the most important festival in the world that the award goes to a film by a director, after Jane Campion in 1993 for “The Piano”.
It is also the first French title to win since Jacques Audiard’s “Dheepan” (who was in the race with “Les Olympiades”, which ran out of prizes).
Purchased for Portugal by distributor Alambique and starring Vincent Lindon, Julia Ducournau’s second film (“Raw”) formally focuses on the story of the return of a missing child ten years ago and the reunion with his father, but it is a “body horror” which has been compared to David Cronenberg’s “Crash” (1996), involving for example a serial killer who copulates with a car.
Described as a more provocative, sexual, and violent film than usual among the winners, the suspense surrounding the daring choice was lost because of a monumental gaffe by jury chairman Spike Lee: early on, French actress Audrey Tatou asked him “Can you tell me which prize is first prize?” and the American director replied “Yes, I can. The film that wins the Palme d’Or is ‘Titane'”.
It was a misunderstanding that brought to mind the wrong envelope and the announcement of “La La Land” as the Oscar for Best Film: the “no” of the French actress Mélanie Laurent, who was a member of the jury, and the unexpected was not enough revelation shocked audiences inside the Grand Theater Lumière.
The other members are Senegalese actress, director and screenwriter Mati Diop, French actress Mylène Farmer, American actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, Austrian director and screenwriter Jessica Hausner, Brazilian director and screenwriter Kleber Mendonça Filho, French actor Tahar Rahim , and South Korean actor Song Gangho, split between laughing and hiding their faces with their hands.
But the episode is not enough to tarnish a festival whose realization in itself was a victory, after last year’s cancellation and taking place between 6 and 17 July instead of the traditional month of May still because of the pandemic: among those vaccinated, masks and thousands of PCR tests, the organization revealed that there were only 70 positive tests for COVID-19.
In the competition, Portugal was only represented in the race for the Golden Palm of short films by Diogo Salgado’s “Noite Turva”, but won the Chinese “Tous les corbeaux du monde”, by Tang Yi (there was also a special mention for the Brazilian film “Céu De Agosto”, by Jasmin Tenucci.
AWARDS ON STAGE AT THE END OF THE CEREMONY.
Seen as a more consensual choice for Palma, the Japanese “Drive my Car”, which a few hours earlier had received the Best Film awards from the international critics and the ecumenical jury (which since 1974 has awarded one of the films in competition that best exalts values human and solidary), the distinction was made by the argument of Hamaguchi Ryusuke and Takamasa Oe, based on a work by Haruki Murakami. It will be distributed in Portugal by Leopardo Filmes.
The Jury Grand Prix, a “second place” in the awards, was ex-aequo for Iranian Asghar Farhadi’s “A Hero” (Screen Prize winner for “The Seller” in 2016), a psychological thriller with the which the Oscar winner returned to film in his native country, and “Compartment N. 6”, by the Finnish Juho Kuosmanen, a “road-movie” about a woman who takes a train towards the Arctic Circle. The first will also be distributed in Portugal by Alembic and the second by Legendmain.
The Jury Prize, which corresponds to a third place, was also ex-aequo for “Ahed’s Knee”, by the Israeli Nadav Lapid, about a filmmaker facing the death of his mother, and “Memoria”, by the Thai Apichatpong Weerasethakul (already established with Palma in 2010 for “Uncle Boonmee who remembers his Previous Lives”), where Tilda Swinton plays an orchidophile who travels to Colombia to visit her sister and begins to hear strange sounds. The second is already distributed in Portugal by Midas.
Frenchman Leos Carax was awarded the Best Direction Award for “Annette”, the opening film of the festival and which is already in Portuguese cinemas, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, who personify a couple of stars whose life changes with arrival of their first daughter.
The “Golden Chamber”, attributed to a first film, went to “Murina”, by director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic, a co-production between Serbia and Croatia for a teenager who decides to replace her controlling father with a foreign friend during an end trip weekend to the Adriatic Sea.
The Cannes Film Festival jury consecrated two actors little known to the general public.
At 31, Caleb Landry Jones won Best Actor for his role in Australian Justin Kurzel’s “Nitram,” in which he plays a serial killer. It is another title distributed in Portugal by Alembic.
The film, a portrait of the author of a massacre in 1996 that left 35 dead on the Australian island of Tasmania, generated controversy in the country even before its release, especially among the victims’ families.
But Caleb Landry Jones, who is also a musician, did not hesitate to play the murderer, Martin Bryant, who was sentenced to life in prison.
“I didn’t say to myself ‘be careful, I’ll have problems if I make this film,” the actor told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “On the contrary, I was very interested in this film because it talks about a subject that nobody wants to talk about.”
Texas-born Caleb Landry Jones made his feature film debut at age 13 with a small role in the Coen brothers’ film “This Country Is Not For Old Men,” which won four Academy Awards in 2007.
Since then, he has acted in American independent film, playing ambivalent roles: from an ultra-sensitive drug addict in the Safdie brothers’ “Heaven Know What” (2014), to a toxic man in the third season of “Twin Peaks” (2017), passing by by a gas station employee in Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” (2019).
In 2017, he participated in three Oscar-nominated films: “Three Posters by the Road”, “Flee” and “The Florida Project”.
Unsurprisingly, Norwegian Renate Reinsve was Best Actress, as the protagonist of “Julie (en 12 Chapitres)”, by Joachim Trier, which tells the story of a “millennial” in existential crisis in Oslo who seeks to remake her life .
It was the unveiling of the Cannes Film Festival, which left critics at their feet after the film was shown on July 9th.
“This situation surprised me,” Reinsve admitted to AFP of his sudden fame.
“I know that no one has seen me before because it’s my first role. I did a lot of theater and a few films… And always small roles,” he added.
Interestingly, Renate Reinsve made her film debut in another Trier film, “Oslo, August 31” (2012).
“I always wondered why he never played a bigger role,” he explained. “And I told myself: let’s make a movie with her.”
For Trier, the character the actress plays is very similar to her.
“I completely identify with her, as I’ve been through similar things,” agreed Renate Reinsve.