The Cannes Film festival has given out the awards at its closing ceremony at the Theatre Lumiere. Some inevitable winners were joined by some surprises: perhaps the biggest was French auteur Jacques Audiard winning the Palme d’Or for “Dheepan,” his timely, intuitive, brilliant and empathetic portrait of Tamil Emigres in France. While it was respected, no one was picking this for the big win. Clearly, it was a consensus choice.
Audiard brought his two first-time actors, Antonythasan Jesuthasan and Kalieaswari Srinivasan, up to the stage. Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” had gone home empty-handed, but he won the Grand Prix for “A Prophet” in 2009. This is the fourth Palme d’Or win in ten years for IFC Films, which picked up the film for stateside release via Sundance Selects.
All in all the French did well this year.
When Agnes Varda, 86, accepted her well-deserved lifetime achievement award, she suggested that she needed fewer awards and more money for her films.
Rooney Mara and Emmannuelle Bercot shared the Actress honors for Todd Haynes’ “Carol” and Maiwenn’s “Mon Roi,” respectively. Bercot also directed the opening night film “Standing Tall.” Haynes accepted for Mara, saying she had returned to New York.
In a popular move, 55-year-old star Vincent Lindon won Best Actor for his passion project “The Measure of a Man,” directed by Stephane Brizet, a strong kitchen sink drama about a man struggling to take care of his family during tough times, trying to hang on to his values. The Lumiere exploded with joy. “It’s a political act to make a film like this,” he admitted.
The runner-up Grand Prix went to first-time Cannes attendee, Hungarian Lazslo Nemes, for his debut feature “Son of Saul,” a remarkable start to a promising career. It was unusual for a rookie to be selected for the Competition. As soon as we saw the aesthetically rigorous holocaust story, told from a different perspective, we understood why. He worked as an assistant director for veteran Bela Tarr, but this film introduces a unique new voice.
The prix du scenario went to Mexican writer-director Michel Franco for his English-language drama about an empathetic nurse, “Chronic,” starring Tim Roth.
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth”) won the Jury Prize for his witty and controlled first English language film “The Lobster,” starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz.
The mise-en-scene directing award went to Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien for his long-in-the-works “The Assassin,” a stunningly beautiful 9th century martial arts epic starring Shu Qi that wowed critics in Cannes. This was not a surprise.
Among those left out of the prize-giving were two English language efforts by Italian directors, Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” and Matteo Garrone’s “Tale of Tales,” as well as their countryman Nanni Morretti’s “Mi Madre.” Jia Zhang-Ke’s “Mountains May Depart” earned strong reviews for its lead performer, Zhao Tao; the Coens suggested at the post-awards jury conference that they felt constrained by only being able to give a shared award to two performers. Not expected to win an award: Gus Van Sant’s widely panned “Sea of Trees.”