At Cannes Film Festival, ‘Dheepan’ Wins Palme d’Or

25 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

60th birthday for Cannes’ Palme d’Or top film trophy.

CANNES, France — The 68th Cannes Film Festival was brought to a surprising close Sunday with Jacques Audiard’s Sri Lankan refugee drama taking the festival’s coveted top honor, the Palme d’Or.CANNES, France (AP) — As the Palme d’Or sits in its cushioned box awaiting Sunday’s Cannes winner, the film festival’s top prize might be taking stock of its own lifetime of achievements — on this, its 60th birthday. If it’s not that one, I would like the Palme d’Or (to) go to Jia Zhang-Ke,” said critic Joao Antunes of the Portuguese daily paper the Journal de Noticias.

While the dapper French filmmaker has drawn widespread acclaim for films such as “A Prophet” and “Rust and Bone,” some critics were disappointed by the thriller climax of Audiard’s film. “Dheepan” is about a trio of Sri Lankans who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country and are settled in a violent housing project outside Paris. “This isn’t a jury of film critics,” Joel Coen told reporters after the awards ceremony, alongside fellow jurors like Guillermo del Toro and Jake Gyllenhaal. “This is a jury of artists who are looking at the work.” The win for “Dheepan” comes at a time when Europe is particularly attuned to the experience of immigrants, following the recent deaths of hundreds crossing the Mediterranean, seeking Italian shores. His film “Mountains May Depart” is another reflection on the rise of consumerism in China and the impact of internal migration for economic reasons. “With no clear favourite emerging, even if the Italians and Chinese are often cited, the competition remains wide open and the prize list could bring some surprises.” He goes personal with “Mia Madre” – “My Mother” – about a film-maker whose mother is dying.

Jury members, though, said “Dheepan” was chosen for its overall strength as a film, rather than any topicality. “We all thought it was a very beautiful movie,” said Ethan Coen, calling the decision “swift.” ‘’Everyone had some high level of excitement and enthusiasm for it.” Audiard, springing to the podium at the Palais des Festivals, accepted the award with warm gratitude, bowing to the jury. He was joined by the makeshift parents of his film: Kalieaswari Srinivasan and Antonythasan Jesuthasan, who himself was Tamil Tiger child soldier before finding political asylum in France. “To receive a prize from the Coen brothers is exceptional,” said Audiard, who added that only receiving one from the Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, the Belgian filmmaking siblings, could equal it.

The iconic award itself — with its gold palm branch that was re-designed last year by Chopard — is made of 18-carat “Fairmined” gold, hand-cast in a plaster mould and fixed on a cushion of unique cut crystal. It was honored at this year’s festival in a film directed by Alexis Veller that interviewed recipients such as Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese and Jane Campion. Some expected Nemes’ horrifying plunge into the life of an Auschwitz worker to take the top award, but it’s been 26 years since a debut film (Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”) was given the Palme. On Saturday, “Rams,” a drama set among farmers and their sheep in a remote Icelandic valley, won the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard competition. English actress Sienna Miller and Canadian actor Xavier Dolan, both jury members, sounded especially moved by “Son of Saul.” Miller called it “breathtaking” and an extraordinary accomplishment for a first-time filmmaker.

Jury president Isabella Rossellini said Grimur Hakonarson’s film was honored for “treating in a masterful, tragicomic way the undeniable bond that links all humans to animals.” Its second-place Jury Prize went to Croatian director Dalibor Matanic for “Zvizdan” (“The High Sun”), which explores love and ethnic hatred in the Balkans. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, the masterful 68-year-old Taiwanese filmmaker, won best director for his first feature in eight years: “The Assassin,” a lushly painterly martial arts drama.

It was given to both Rooney Mara, half of the romantic pair of Todd Haynes’ ‘50s lesbian drama “Carol,” and Emmanuelle Bercot, the French star of the roller coaster marriage drama “My King.” (Bercot also directed the festival opener, “Standing Tall,” about a delinquent teenager.) Any split was presumed to go to Mara and her “Carol” co-star, Cate Blanchett. Best actor was awarded to Vincent Lindon, the veteran French actor of Stéphane Brizé’s “The Measure of a Man.” He plays a man struggling to make a living after a long period of unemployment. The visibly moved Lindon won over some big-name competition, including Michael Caine, the star of Paolo Sorrentino’s unrewarded “Youth,” a wry, melancholy portrait of old age. Yorgos Lanthimos, a Greek filmmaker working in English for the first time, took the jury prize for his “The Lobster,” a deadpan dystopian comedy, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, about a near-future where unmarried singles are turned into the animal of their choice. “Chronic,” an understated drama about a home-care nurse (Tim Roth) for the terminally ill, took best screenplay for Mexican writer-director Michel Franco.

The Camera d’Or, Cannes award for best first feature film, went to “La Tierra Y la Sombra.” César Augusto Acevedo’s debut, which played in the Critics Week section, is about an old farmer returning home to tend to his gravely ill son. Some of the films that drew the biggest raves (”Mad Max: Fury Road,” Pixar’s “Inside Out”) played out of competition, while some in it (like Gus Van Sant’s “The Sea of Trees”) drew loud boos. The festival was dominated by discussion about gender equality with many — from Blanchett to Jane Fonda — speaking about female opportunity in the movie business. “You hope it’s not just the year,” said Blanchett of the attention to women in film. “It’s not some sort of fashionable moment.” An honorary Palme d’Or was also given to French filmmaker Agnes Varda, the first woman to receive one and only the fourth director after Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Bernardo Bertolucci. Reilly, a co-star of “The Lobster” and another competition entry, “Tale of Tales,” took the stage to sing “Just a Gigolo” in a bright white suit.

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