French film ‘Dheepan’ takes top prize at Cannes

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.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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.

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