Julia Ducournau’s film “Titane”, a body-horror thriller with sex with a vehicle and a surprisingly tender spirit, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival. Ducournau is the second female filmmaker to receive the festival’s highest honor in its 74-year history.
Spike Lee, the jury president, incorrectly announced Saturday’s win at the end of the closing ceremony. It was broadcast in France by Canal+. This caused some confusion. Ducournau (a French filmmaker) didn’t appear on the stage to accept her award until after the formal announcement. Her emotional reaction to the hint was not diminished.
Ducournau catches her breath and says, “I’m sorry, but I keep shaking my heads,” Is this really happening? Because I’m French, I don’t understand why I speak English. Because it wasn’t perfect, this evening was so wonderful.”
After several failed attempts, Lee asked Sharon Stone to announce the Palme d’Or award. Sharon replied, “She’s going to not mess it up.” Troubles began earlier, when Lee was asked which prize would be awarded. Instead, he announced that the evening’s last prize was being awarded. Mati Diop, a fellow juror, plunged her head into his hands, and other people rushed to stop him.
Lee spent several minutes with his head in the hands, before apologizing profusely that he had taken a lot out of the evening’s suspense.
Lee said that he had no excuses to Lee afterward. I made a mistake. I am a huge sports fan. It’s almost like the guy at halftime who missed the free throw.
He added, “I messed it up.” It’s as simple as that.
Ducournau’s victory was a long-awaited success. Jane Campion, who won the Cannes top honor in 1993 for “The Piano”, was the only female filmmaker to have ever won this prestigious award. Over the years, anger at Cannes’ gender parity has increased, especially in 2018, when 82 women, including Agnes Varda and Cate Blanchett, protested against gender inequality on Cannes’ red carpet. They represented the films by women directors that were selected to compete in the Palme d’Or competition — 82 compared with 1,645 films directed and produced by men. Fourteen of the 24 Palme d’Or films were directed this year by women.
Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite”, a genre film, won the Palme in 2019. It also went on to win the Academy Awards best picture. The jury, led by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu said that the decision was unanimous. However, the jury awarded “Titane”, a very violent film, this year after a democratic process of discussion and debate. Maggie Gyllenhaal, a juror, stated that they weren’t unanimous on any issue.
Lee said, “The world is passion.” “Everyone was passionately involved in a film they desired and we worked it out.”
Agathe Rousselle portrays a serial killer fleeing home in “Titane”, which will be distributed in the U.S.A by Neon. A car accident left her with a titanium plate on her head, and an unusual bond with cars as a child. She is impregnated with a Cadillac, which is perhaps the most talked-about scene at the festival. Lee described it as a unique experience.
Lee said that this was the first movie where a Cadillac impregnates an actress. “That’s genius mixed with craziness. These two things often coincide.”
Ducournau thanked her jury for allowing the “monsters in” to speak on stage. However, she also acknowledged that she was a part of history but said that she could not be reduced to being just a woman.
Ducournau stated, “Quite honestly, I hope that my prize has nothing to do the fact that I am a woman.” “I was the second woman to win this prize. I thought a lot of Jane Campion and her feelings when she won.
Ducournau stated that more women will follow her. “There will be another, there will also be a fourth, and there will be yet another,” Ducournau said.
The closing ceremony of Cannes capped 12 days worth of red-carpet premieres and regular COVID-19 testing. It was also the first major film festival since the pandemic. Cannes was able to present a diverse slate of international cinema with smaller audiences and mandatory mask-wearing. The pandemic completely cancelled last year’s festival.
This slate was created to encourage movies in a year when they had fallen to smaller screens and red carpets became more crowded. It featured many of the most prominent international filmmakers. The awards were distributed widely.
The grand prize was split between Asghar Fahadi’s Iranian drama, “A Hero”, and Juho Kuosmanen’s Finnish film, “Compartment Number. 6.
Leos Carax was named best director for “Annette”, the musical that starred Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. Russell Mael and Sparks Mael, the musical duo that wrote the music and the script for the film, accepted the award.
The jury prize was also split by the jurors. This was given to Nadav’s “Ahed’s Knee”, a passionate drama about creative freedom and modern Isreal, as well as to Apichatpong Weerasthakul of Thailand’s “Memoria,” which is a meditational film with Tilda Swinton.
Caleb Landry Jones won the best actor prize for playing an Australian mass murderer in “Nitram”, a fact-based documentary by Justin Kurzel. Renate Reinsve was awarded best actress for Joachim Trier’s “The Worst People in the World”. Ryusuke Hamaguchi won best screenplay for “Drive My Car”, a Haruki Murakami adaptation that he co-wrote with Takamasa Ohe.
Antoneta Alamatkusijanovic won the Camera d’Or award for best first feature. Kusijanovic, who had given birth one day earlier, was not present at the ceremony.
Lee was the first Black president of the Cannes jury. His fellow members of the jury were: Gyllenhaal and Melanie Laurent, Song Kangho, Tahar Rahim. Mati Dip, Jessica Hausner. Kleber Mendonca Filho. Mylene Farmer.