It’s always interesting to note the afterlife, as it were, of an award-winning film. Some of the Cannes award winners will get U.S. distribution, have great runs and perhaps even wind up in the Oscar awards race come the following year. Others may languish, never get domestic distribution and only get a few more festival slots. It can happen. But right now all the winners will be celebrated, at least for this moment.
Belgian first time director Lukas Dhont won the Camera d’or for his first feature “Girl.” It should be noted that Victor Polster won the acting prize in Un Certain Regard, the section that presented the film. [The Camera d’or award for first feature film can be awarded to a film from any section at Cannes: competition, Un certain regard, Directors Fortnight, Critics Week. Each of these sections has their own juries and awards for everything else.]
“Girl” is the story of a young transgender dancer that caused some controversy for casting a male actor in the lead role of Lara (some felt it should have been a transgender actor, perhaps?), but 15 year old actor Victor Polster won the best acting award in the Un Certain Regard section. So there.
The screenplay prize was shared this year. Alice Rohrwacher (“Corpo Celesto,” “The Wonders”) took the award for “Happy Lazaro” while Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi (“The White Balloon, “The Circle”) took it for “3 Faces.” “3 Faces” is the fourth film Panahi has made since being handed a 20-year ban on making films by the Iranian government in 2010.
Pawel Pawlikowski (“Ida”) received the directing award for his black and white study of artistic freedom, or lack thereof, during the Soviet age in Poland. In addition to great cinematography the film boasts fantastic music that spans genres and generations.
Headed by Cate Blanchett, this year’s jury included directors Ava Duvernay, Robert Guediguian, Denis Villeneuve and Andrey Zvyagintsev; actors Chen Chang, Lea Seydoux and Kristen Stewart; and musician Khadja Nin. The group gave out three “special” or “grand” or simply “jury” prizes leading up to the Palme d’Or, which was awarded to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s extended family drama “Shoplifters.” This story of petty thieves who take in a lost child speaks to what constitutes a family.
As for the rest, a Special Palme d’Or went to Jean-Luc Godard for his latest film (which he claims will be his last) “Image Book.” I believe Godard receives awards now just for being him, so this award could have nothing to do with the film itself.
Spike Lee’s stunning “BlackkKlansman” received the Grand Prix. This is generally though of as the second place prize, and it’s usually awarded when the jury may not be unanimous in their decision for the Palme d’Or. Given that Nadine Labaki’s “Capharnaum” about a young boy suing his parents for divorce, got a jury prize, it may just be that the jury wanted to spread the wealth.
In another nod at shaking things up this year, the Closing Night festivities ended with a concert on the steps of the Palais. Sting was there, as well as Lenny Kravitz. They rocked the red carpet as the jury, prize winners and guests boogied out of the hall.
Some of these films have come out of Cannes with U.S. distributors, some went in with distributors. Others may find deals down the road. Let’s hope they all find a way to U.S. shores, as each is definitely a winner.