(Cannes) By awarding the Palme d’Or to Titanium, the most provocative film in the selection, the jury, chaired by Spike Lee, dared to be bold. Julia Ducournau thus became, 28 years after Jane Campion and her Piano lesson, the second director in the history of the Cannes Film Festival to obtain the highest distinction in world cinema.
At this “moment in history” that Spike Lee evoked at the very beginning of the festival, the jury he chaired echoed by drawing up a historic prize list. In addition to being a genre film, the kind that are rarely awarded prizes at general festivals, Titanium, by Julia Ducournau, is also the most radical and inflated film proposition of the selection.
“A woman who gets pregnant with a Cadillac, I had never seen that! commented Spike Lee at the press conference following the announcement of the winners. I was captivated by it! ”
Claiming to be a follower of body horror, the French director proposes, five years later Serious, a film that the David Cronenberg of Crash, while the car is used as an object of desire and a vector of all kinds of impulses. Titanium tells the story of a murderer whose childhood was marked by a serious accident. The latter finds refuge with a man who believes he sees in her the much loved son, who died several years ago, and whose trace has never been found.
Ode to imperfection
The closing evening of this edition like no other started off in a strange way. Not fluent in the French language, Spike Lee believed that host Doria Tillier, who wanted to know what was the first prize to be awarded for the evening, had asked him to reveal the most important prize. This is what the president did by unveiling the title of winner of the Palme d’Or! The discomfort was still well recovered, even if the suspense was nipped in the bud from the start of the ceremony. In her very beautiful speech, Julia Ducournau declared that, finally, this blunder fits perfectly in the spirit of a film which celebrates the differences and the imperfection.
When her “real” moment came, the visibly upset filmmaker spoke about what his presence on the stage of the Grand Théâtre Lumière means to her.
“When I was little, it was a ritual with us to watch the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival. At that time, I was sure the award-winning films had to be perfect, since they had the honor of being on that stage. Tonight [samedi], I’m on this stage. And I know my film is imperfect.
I think a movie is never perfect in the eyes of whoever made it anyway. It is even said of mine that it is monstrous. Now that I’m an adult and a director, I realize that perfection is a dead end.
“The monstrosity,” she continued, “which scares some people and which runs through my work, is a weapon, but it is a force to push back the walls of normativity that lock us in and separate us. There is so much beauty, emotion and freedom to be found in what we cannot put in a box, and in what remains to be discovered about us, that I would like to thank the jury very much for recognizing with this award. the greedy and visceral need that we have for a more inclusive and more fluid world. Thank you to the jury for calling for more diversity in our experiences in cinema and in our lives. Thank you for letting in monsters. ”
According to Spike Lee, the discussions would have been lively, but respectful between the members of the jury. If some of them obviously campaigned for Titanium stronger than others – Mylène Farmer said she was delighted with this choice – the fact remains that everyone finally agreed to award the supreme award to Julia Ducournau. To see the enthusiasm of the president, who also wanted to bring on stage Agathe Rousselle and Vincent Lindon, the two stars of Titanium, he himself must have been convinced as well.
Nine laurels for 24 films
Of the 24 feature films in the running for the Palme d’Or, nine are on the honor roll, because two laurels were awarded equal.
The Grand Prix, second in the hierarchy, was awarded to A hero, Asghar Farhadi (one of the big favorites of the race), as well as Compartment no. 6, of the Finnish Juho Kuosmanen, one of the nice surprises of the competition. The presentation of these prizes also gave rise to a touching moment when, speaking after the Iranian master, the Finnish director turned to him, admitting his admiration to him.
The jury prize was also awarded ex æquo to Ahed’s knee, a hard-hitting Israeli film directed by Nadav Lapid, and to Memoria, hypnotic feature film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Leos Carax, absent from the party, obtained the prize for the staging thanks to Annette (the brothers Ron and Russel Mael – the Sparks – accepted the award in place of the French filmmaker), and Drive my Car, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s film that everyone saw very high on the board, finally won the prize for best screenplay.
Caleb Landry Jones, whose performance is disturbing in Nitram, Justin Kurzel’s drama about the young author of a mass shooting in Australia in 1996, was so gripped by the award for male actor – deserved – that he received that he was hardly able to to say a word. Renate Reinsve, star of Julie (in 12 chapters), by Norwegian Joachim Trier, received the award for best actress thanks to her composition in the role of a woman who, in her early thirties, is struggling to make choices.
If this list is after all incontestable, we still deplore the absence of The Olympics, magnificent film by Jacques Audiard. The offerings of François Ozon, Nanni Moretti, Paul Verhoeven, Wes Anderson, Bruno Dumont and Sean Baker, to name only the most famous filmmakers, were also ruled out.
“There were 24 films! Spike Lee explained. We could not give prizes to everyone, already we had the authorization to award two ties. ”
In this historic year, when the presidency of a predominantly female jury was entrusted for the first time to an Afro-descendant, it should be noted that, for the first time in the history of the festival, the Palme d’Or (Titanium, by Julia Ducournau), the Palme d’Or for short films (All the crows in the world, by Tang Yi), the Un certain regard Prize (Loose fists, by Kira Kovalenko) and the Camera d’Or, awarded to the best first film in all sections (Murina, by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic), were awarded to directors.
Remember that in Quebec, Titanium will be distributed by Entract Films. No release date has been announced yet.