Palme d’Or for ‘Titane’ by French director Julia Ducournau, second director crowned at Cannes

For the second time only in the history of the Cannes Film Festival, the Palme d’Or was awarded on Saturday July 17 to a film directed by a woman, the Frenchwoman Julia Ducournau, 28 years after ‘La Leçon de piano’ by Jane Campion . The award-winning feature film ‘Titanium’ has divided reviews due to some shocking scenes.

The announcement of the top award was premature to say the least, as jury chairman Spike Lee took charge from the start of the ceremony, catching the organizers by surprise.

Spike Lee was first supposed to announce the Best Actor Award, which ultimately went to American Caleb Landry Jones for his performance in ‘Nitram’, where he plays a borderline young man who is about to commit one of the worst killings in Australian history.

The Best Actress Prize went to Norwegian Renate Reinsve for her role in Joachim Trier’s ‘Julie (in 12 chapters)’, in which she plays a young woman in search of herself.

Asghar Farhadi rewarded again

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi for his part called to ‘raise awareness’ in Iran by receiving the Grand Prize – the second most prestigious after the Palme d’Or – for his film ‘A hero’, the story of a redemption prevented in an Iranian society plagued by mistrust and manipulation. A reward shared with the Finnish Juho Kuosmane, tied with ‘Compartment n ° 6’, which features the meeting between a Finn and a Russian during a train journey between Moscow and Murmansk, north of the Arctic Circle.

French director Leos Carax won the best director’s award for ‘Annette’, an abundant and virtuoso rock-opera that sets two stars, Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, to shine.

Reviews divided on ‘Titanium’

By offering the Palme d’Or to the youngest in the competition, 37, the Cannes Film Festival is sending a major signal in an industry that has been questioning more than ever for four years about the place of women, and equality between genres, in the wake of the Weinstein affair and the #MeToo movement. Julia Ducourneau thanked the jury for ‘recognizing the greedy and visceral need we have for a more fluid and inclusive world’.

Only four female directors were in competition this year, for 24 films in total. The most prestigious prize, awarded to ‘Titane’, rewards a transgressive and pioneering cinema, imbued with feminism.

‘Titane’, which is not intended for all audiences, talks about woman / machine hybridization, love for cars and the quest for fatherhood. It was the most violent and trashy film of the competition, far from winning unanimous support among critics. It features a bluffing newcomer, Agathe Rousselle, and French actor Vincent Lindon, as a firefighter on steroids.

Julia Ducournau had already left a memorable memory in Cannes with her first feature film, ‘Grave’, the story of a veterinary student who becomes a cannibal. This film had allowed her to become the leader of a revival of the tricolor genre film. Across the Atlantic, she was dubbed by a horror master, M. Night Shyamalan.

This list gives a shot of old to the other contenders for the Palme d’Or, some behind the camera since the 1970s, like Paul Verhoeven, whose film ‘Benedetta’, announced as a shock work on a lesbian nun in the Middle Age, finally disappointed, or Nanni Moretti, in search of a second Palme d’Or with ‘Tre Piani’, but left empty-handed.

Victory for the organizers

The biggest and most glamorous of film festivals has been the first to behave (almost) normally since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Admittedly, the legendary Cannes festivals suffered from restrictions and the crowds were less dense. With the festival taking place in July instead of May, film lovers were less numerous than tourists. The fact that the event went off without a major hitch remains a victory for Cannes, however.

The logistics related to Covid-19 were criticized at first: participants coming from a country outside the Schengen area as well as unvaccinated Europeans had to take saliva tests every 48 hours. Some were put off by all this spitting, but the system was fast and efficient. Photos of spectators without masks at first screenings also drew criticism on social media, but restrictions were quickly tightened. French actress Léa Seydoux was the only celebrity infected with the virus in Paris, which saw her miss four red carpet premieres.

After last year’s cancellation, festival-goers were spoiled with an abundance of films, some awaiting their premieres since early 2020. In 12 days, the organizers stalled 24 screenings of films in official competition, and five times more outside. competition. One way, perhaps, to make up for the lack of parties.

Among this deluge of films, the festival has established a new special selection on climate change, a way for Cannes to place the environmental emergency at the heart of its priorities. This year, the famous red carpet was made from recycled materials rather than the usual PVC. The organizers also banned plastic bottles, deployed a fleet of electric vehicles and asked for a contribution of 20 euros per participant to offset their carbon footprint.