UPDATE: In what was one of the wildest, and most ground-breaking awards ceremonies of recent memory at the Cannes Film Festival, French filmmaker Julia Ducournau became the second-ever female director to win the Palme d’Or, with her audacious Titane. The last time a woman scooped the top prize was in 1993 when Jane Campion shared honors in a tie between her The Piano and Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine.
While there were harbingers that Titane was destined to take home a statue this evening — she appeared on the red carpet ahead of the closing ceremony — it became very clear that her film was the primo laureate when jury president Spike Lee inadvertently announced the Palme at the outset of the ceremony.
Evidently misunderstanding a cue for the first prize of the evening as “first prize,” Lee gave away the goods which resulted in nervous anticipation, a Twitter explosion and also evident delight from the audience in the Lumière theater here in Cannes. It took a while for things to get back on track as Lee conferred with the jury members assembled on the side of the stage, apparently in an effort to understand what had just gone down.
The usual system at a Cannes awards ceremony is a tandem between the jury and host as well as an awards presenter called to the stage for a specific category. When it finally came to the Palme D’Or this evening, Lee began, “In my 63 years of life I’ve learned that people get a second chance, so this is my second chance, and I apologize for messing up; it took a lot of suspense out of the night.”
Sharon Stone then came out to hand the Palme to Ducournau who was — despite, or maybe because of — the earlier reveal, very emotional. Amid a standing ovation, she said, “I I keep shaking my head… I don’t know why I’m speaking English, I’m French. This evening has been amazing. Thank you Spike, it’s because of you.”
She continued, in French, to explain she had watched awards ceremonies from a young age and “was sure that all winners must be perfect because they were on this stage. Tonight I am on this stage and I know my movie is not perfect, but I don’t think any film is perfect in the eyes of the person who made it, some may even say it’s monstrous.” She concluded that the prize would hopefully recognize “a world that has a need to be more and more fluid.”
Other notable winners included Best Director Leos Carax for Annette, though he was not in attendance. A tie between Asghar Farhadi’s lauded A Hero and young Finnish filmmaker Juhu Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6 for the Grand Prize resulted in a giant hug between the two, with the latter seeming shocked to be in such company.
PREVIOUS, 10:32AM PT: The 74th Cannes Film Festival is drawing to a close this evening with winners of the main prizes to be announced shortly from the Grand Théâtre Lumière inside the Palais. The return of Cannes this year, after the pandemic forced its cancellation in 2020, has been an interesting affair, replete with Covid testing, reduced crowds — despite a bevy of vacationing tourists — and above all a fresh official competition selection.
Among the best received entries this year is Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car, a brooding and introspective drama about long-held secrets, regrets and revelations largely unveiled while on the road in a moving car — and also the longest-running film in the competition at just three hours.
Also making waves is previous Cannes prizewinner Asghar Farhadi with A Hero, a thought-provoking story of a good deed gone bad. Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person In The World was widely lauded, and acquired by Neon following a tussle for North American rights. Paul Verhoeven, meanwhile, was back with steamy period piece Benedetta, based on the true story of a 17th Century abbess whose claims of mystical visions and miracles were investigated by the Catholic church in a trial that lasted from 1619-23.
Leos Carax’s opener Annette, Julia Ducournau’s audacious Titane, Sean Baker’s Red Rocket, Apichatpong Weerasthakul’s Memoria, Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6 and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch also sparked discussion.
Annually, the outcome here in Cannes is anything but predictable, and Spike Lee’s jury could go in any direction. We’ll know more in just a little bit, so check back as we update the winners below:
Titane, dir: Julia Ducournau
Grand Prize (TIE)
A Hero, dir: Asghar Farhadi,
Compartment No. 6, dir: Juho Kuosmanen
Leos Carax, Annette
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person In The World
Jury Prize (TIE)
Ahed’s Knee, dir: Nadav Lapid
Memoria, dir: Apichatpong Weerasthakul
Caleb Landry Jones, Nitram
Murina, dir: Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
Short Film Palme d’Or
All The Crows In The World, dir: Tang Yi
Special Mention: August Sky, dir: Jasmin Tenucci