Behind The Candelabra
"Behind The Candelabra"

Last night in Cannes, Abdellatif Kechiche's "Blue Is The Warmest Color" (La Vie d'Adele) made history by becoming the first film centered on a same-sex relationship to win the Palme d'Or in the festival's 66 year history.  The film -- about a lesbian romance between two French teenagers (Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos) -- received a lot of attention during the course of the fest, for both being a favorite among critics and for the fact that it features some very graphic sex (there's an explicit six-minute sex scene between actresses that got a lot of attention in particular).

Most people seemed to applaud the film's Palme win, both with regard to it being incredibly deserving, and to the fact that it finally gave Cannes' top prize to some queer content (in this writer's opinion it should have happened already in 1997, with Wong Kar-wai's "Happy Together"). But there were a few other dialogues going on as well. One asking whether the film could have succeeded as much as it did if it featured two men instead of two women, and the other suggesting its Palme win was a politically motivated response to the anti-gay protesting simultaneously occurring in Paris (where 150,000+ people were protesting the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in France).

I'd perhaps naively like to believe that Steven Spielberg and company would have given the Palme to "Blue" if it traded Seydoux and Exarchopoulos for two boys, and that they awarded the film the Palme with no political motivations. However, I can't really argue either. I haven't seen "Blue Is The Warmest Color," and wasn't actually at the Cannes Film Festival.

Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in "Blue Is the Warmest Color"
Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in "Blue Is the Warmest Color"

I certainly expected to miss out on a lot of great films by not attending this year's edition, but I didn't expect to miss out on witnessing what ended up clearly being a banner year for LGBT-themed cinema at Cannes. So much so that "Blue Is The Warmest Color" -- despite winning the top prize overall -- did not win the Queer Palm, the award handed out to the festival's best queer film. That award went to Alain Guiraudie's "Stranger By The Lake," an Un Certain Regard selection that also won that program's best director award.

Like "Blue," "Stranger" is both French and features very graphic and explicit sex scenes, this time indeed of the man-on-man variety. The psychological thriller follows a young man who finds himself in a sexual relationship with a man who may or may not be a killer. It sounds amazing (and like "Blue," I heard countless great things), but again -- I haven't seen it. Nor have seen yet another French film with LGBT content to win a major prize at the fest: Guillaume Gallienne's "Me, Myself and Mom." Clearly much lighter (and less sexy) than the aforementioned, it's based on Gallienne's own upbringing, growing up as a female-identified boy who everyone thinks is gay (Screen called it "something of a one-man La Cage aux Folles").