Cannes 2015 closes with glittering ceremony

25 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Audiard’s ‘Dheepan’ wins Palme d’Or in upset Cannes finale (w/video).

After nearly two weeks of stirring, sleek and thought-provoking movies — and a couple of duds — the Cannes Film Festival closed with an awards night to declare the winner of its coveted Palme d’Or. (Source: PTI) After nearly two weeks of stirring, sleek and thought-provoking movies — and a couple of duds — the Cannes Film Festival closed today with an awards night to declare the winner of its coveted Palme d’Or.Jacques Audiard has cemented his place as the premier contemporary French director by winning the Palme d’Or in Cannes for his seventh feature, Dheepan.

US directing duo the Coen brothers headed this year’s jury of top actors and filmmakers deciding which of the 19 competition entries will walk away with the 20,000-euro (USD 24,000) gold-and-crystal trophy. In the picture by acclaimed director Jacques Audiard (who made 2009’s “A Prophet”), Anthonythasan Jesuthasan plays a former Tamil Tiger fighter fleeing the mayhem of his war-ravaged homeland.

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 new film is a less-starry affair than those two; the tale of a former fighter in the Sri Lankan civil war trying to make a new life in France with a fake family.

Once they arrive in a rough housing estate on the outskirts of Paris, Dheepan must use his battlefield experience to keep the three of them safe from drug gangs waging a turf war. 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. After three terrifying years, he managed to escape to Thailand before travelling in 1993 on a fake passport to France, where he was eventually granted political asylum. “I came to France because at the time I was able to only find a fake French passport and not a fake British or Canadian passport,” Anthonythasan said, noting how difficult it had been to learn the French language. This year’s Grand Prix went to 38-year-old debut director László Nemes for Son of Saul, the Auschwitz-set story of a prisoner working as a Sonderkommando, guiding Jews into the gas chambers and then disposing of their bodies.

Joel and Ethan Coen, the makers of Oscar-winner “No Country for Old Men” and the 1991 Palme d’Or winner “Barton Fink”, could be swayed by movies with menace, or oddball humour, or extraordinary production values. Bookies’ favourite The Lobster, a British co-production directed by Greek film-maker Yorgos Lanthimos, took the Prix du Jury (or third prize) for his satire about single people who must find a mate within 45 days or be turned into a wild animal.

Anthonythasan worked odd jobs until he began writing in the late 1990s, churning out short stories, plays, political essays and, most recently, novels inspired by his traumatic experiences in Sri Lanka. 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. He took a break from writing to appear in Audiard’s movie, before which his acting had mainly been limited to propaganda street theatre for the Tamil Tigers and later, a bit role in an Indian movie. An unofficial award, the Queer Palme, decided by a separate panel looking to highlight gay people in movies, went to “Carol”, an American lesbian drama that was warmly received at the festival. 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.

Rooney Mara took the gong for her role as an inexperienced shopgirl in 1950s New York who begins a relationship with Cate Blanchett’s unhappily married mother-of-one. Haynes, accepting the award in Mara’s absence, said both he and she were “completely blown away and surprised” by the honour. “I love you, I wish you were here,” he said. 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. Veteran French star Vincent Lindon earned prolonged applause as he took the stage to pick up the best actor award for Stéphane Brizé’s The Measure of a Man, in which he plays a man crushed by his job as a supermarket security guard.

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. Lindon beat the likes of Michael Caine (for Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth), and Tim Roth, who plays a traumatised palliative care nurse in bleak drama Chronic. Franco and Roth met three years ago when Roth, serving on a Cannes jury, helped award Franco the Un Certain Regard prize. “It’s a Cannes story,” said 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.

Early in the ceremony, the London singer and pianist Benjamin Clementine performed the song Fare Thee Well from Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coens’ folk drama which took the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2013. The Coens themselves took the Palme in 1991 for “Barton Fink.” The last two Cannes winners have been three-hour art-house epics: the glacial Turkish drama “Winter Sleep,” chosen last year by Jane Campion’s jury, and “Blue is the Warmest Color,” as picked by Steven Spielberg’s jury. 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. After his speech, Augusto continued the musical theme of this year’s ceremony by leading the audience in a rendition of Happy Birthday to Reilly, who turned 50.

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. Best director went to Taiwanese film-maker Hou Hsiao-hsien, whose martial arts epic The Assassin marks his return to cinema after an eight-year absence.

But although there has been an absence of high-profile turkeys such as last year’s opener, Grace of Monaco, the number of flat-out classics was also been felt to be down. Last year’s festival saw the premieres of Leviathan, Winter Sleep, Mr Turner, Jimmy’s Hall, Foxcatcher, Wild Tales, Clouds of Sils Maria, Mommy and Two Days, One Night. Instead, the headlines were dominated by the midnight screening of Gaspar Noé’s 3D sex movie, Love, and by “flatgate”, which saw the festival under attack after security guards banned a number of women – including an amputee – from premieres for not wearing high heels.

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