The 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival came to a close earlier today with Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda winning the coveted Palme d’Or for his devastating, brilliant and unconventional family portrait Shoplifters.
This year’s Cannes began under a cumulus of clouds: the spat with Netflix, the selfie ban, the Harvey Weinstein scandal, a selection lacking star power, a lack of diversity in everything except the jury. A whole swathe of articles were published in the trades predicting a dourly disappointing festival and bawling about the fading glories of the Croisette, some perhaps provoked by a new screening schedule that saw journalists shunted aside to save the feelings of filmmakers who might have made dreadful films.
Regardless, the festival got underway and although the literal clouds hung low over the Palais de Festivals, the actual films began to do what good films do and excitement grew that this could be a classic festival. Yesterday, Un Certain Regard crowned Ali Abbasi’s brilliant Border, a trip into the woods few would forget, as best in show, and actor Victor Polster found recognition in the cisgender/ballet drama Girl. Girl has also deservedly picked up the Camera d’Or prize for best first film.
The Italians had a good night with Marcello Fonte grabbing the top actor prize for Matteo Garrone’s dark noirish thriller Dogman, and Alice Rohrwacher winning the screenplay prize for Happy Lazzaro – sharing with Iranian Nader Saeivar for Three Faces. Samal Yeslamova took home the best actress prize for her gruelling role in Sergey Dvotsevoy’s Ayka. After having been instrumental in stopping the film festival half a century ago, Jean-Luc Godard won a special Palme d’Or for Image Book.
The Special Jury Prize was won by actress turned director Nadine Labaki for her stirring tale of childhood poverty in Lebanon, Capharnaum. In 1989, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing was beaten to the big prize by Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape, widely considered one of the festival’s numerous flubs. This year, Lee picked up the Special Prize for BlackKklansman, a significant return to form (though not quite back to 1989).
It was Cannes favourite Hirokazu Kore-eda who pinched the award in the end with his heartbreaking and beautiful Shoplifters. It’s a testament to the depth of quality in the competition that so many great films went entirely unmentioned by the jury, including Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Wild Pear Tree and Lee Chang-dong’s Burning. In the end, Cannes proved to the world that cinema – beyond the glitzy world of Hollywood and the instant gratification of certain streaming services – is not only alive and well, but thriving.
Hirokazu Kore-eda, Shoplifters
Spike Lee, BlackKlansman
Grand Jury Prize
Nadine Labaki, Capernaum
Special Palme d’Or
Jean-Luc Godard, Image Book
Marcello Fonte, Dogman
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Alice Rohrwacher, Happy As Lazzaro
Nader Saeivar, Three Faces
Samal Yeslyamova, Ayka
Lukas Dhont, Girl
The 71st Cannes Film Festival takes place from 8-19 May.
John Bleasdale | @drjonty