With Titane Julia Ducournau is the second female director in history to win the Golden Palm
It remains difficult, those notes at award ceremonies. The gala had barely begun, at the 74th Cannes Film Festival, when the beloved jury chairman Spike Lee – colorful suit, conductor’s cap – accidentally muttered that ‘Titane‘ had won the Palme d’Or. A variation on the Oscar debacle of 2017, when the wrong card was read.
The French presenter of the closing gala had asked the 64-year-old American – in French and English – to start reading the first of the eight prizes, after which the already somewhat confused Lee thought it was already the winner. Shocked fellow judges tried to interrupt him, but what Lee muttered was barely audible. And then it immediately went around on the internet, even though the organization within the room pretended it was still a secret. Titane so, from Julia Ducournau. And with that also immediately film history: after Jane Campion (before The Piano, 1993), the French is only the second female Palmist winner in the history of the festival, which first took place in 1946.
The dazzling competition film by the 37-year-old French director, in which a female car show model (actress Agathe Rousselle) sets out to commit serial murders and becomes pregnant by a car. An extremely violent, sometimes unexpectedly funny and tender film, in which Ducournau smashes through common sexual stereotypes in order to bring a new French, monstrous or not, fruit into the world. The screenwriter and director already stood out in 2016 with her feature debut raw: about a vegetarian first-year veterinary student who gets hungry for human flesh. The germ for Titane was laid when she had a nightmare where she dreamed she was giving birth to motorcycle parts. Titane garnered both praise and criticism at the festival, and was barely mentioned as a serious contender for the top prize.
The choice of the jury, which once counted more women than men for the first time in Cannes (including Mati Diop, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jessica Hausner), not only shakes the festival but also the film world. No Palme d’Or for the previously famous and already Oscar-lauded favorite Asghar Farhadi, but a culmination of something new and unexpected.
‘The fact that it was not a perfect presentation made it so perfect,’ said Ducournau in her acceptance speech, also to the restless-looking Lee. Earlier, at her film’s press conference, she stated that Titane about the ‘acceptance of the other’.
The Grand Prix, also known as the second prize, was also the third this time. Donated ex aequo to the Iranian Farhadi for A Hero, a divisive drama about a detainee who does a good deed and gets into trouble when the local community suddenly wants to see him as a ‘hero’. Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen (42) took part in the prize for his claustrophobic and moving train travel film compartment no. 6, in which an archaeologist shares a compartment with an Olympic rude Russian.
Also the creator of the opening film and musical Annette was honoured: the Frenchman Leos Carax (60) won in the category ‘best director’.
The Japanese Drive My Car by Hamaguchi Rysuke won the Best Screenplay Award. In the three-hour drama based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, a stage director is working on a new play, for which he casts the young man with whom his deceased wife secretly cheated.
Norwegian Renate Reinsve (33) won the prize for best actress for her dazzling performance in the alternative and satirical romantic comedy The Worst Person in The World, by her compatriot Joachim Trier (47).
The 31-year-old American actor Caleb Landry Jones (ao Get Out) won the Best Actor award for his deeply empathetic role as a retarded adult son in Australia’s Nitram by Justin Kurzel (46). He based his family drama on the life of the gunman who committed a 1996 mass murder near Port Arthur, Tasmania.
Jury prize also divided
The jury prize was also divided. One for the stiff Ha’Berech by Nadav Lapid (46), in which a director screens his film in a remote area of Israel at the invitation of a department of the Ministry of Culture, where his frustration about the increasing censorship takes place on the young woman and civil servant who welcomes him. And also one for the celebrated previous Palm winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul (51), who with the serene and supernatural Memories filmed Thailand for the first time outside his regular dream movie comfort zone, in Colombia. There, an exasperated Tilda Swinton roams around, looking for an explanation for the ‘exploding head syndrome’ that defies her: metallic dull and only audible pops.
The 74th festival edition was considerably less crowded due to the varying entry regulations for continents and countries, but at the same time it hosted more titles than ever. Cannes also surfs just between the virus waves; after the weekend, the corona rules in France will be tightened.