2021 Julia Ducournau’s ‘Titane’ Takes Top Prize – WWD

CANNES, France Spike Lee spoke a little early while hosting the closing ceremony Cannes Film Festival on Saturday night.

When asked to announce the first prize, which is usually the best actor award, Lee understood that it was the top prize and began to say “Tita…” was the Palme d’Or winner, before the members of the committee. Another judge jumped up to stop him. Confused Lee asked “in English” before they explained that the other awards came, well, first.

Finally, “Titane” was confirmed as the main award winner of the evening. It marks the second time in the festival’s 74 years that a woman has won it, after Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993.

Director Julia Ducournau said the early announcement made the whole evening seem “surreal” as she sat in anticipation. “It’s perfect because it’s not so perfect,” she said, as she finally stepped onto the stage and thanked the judges for the honor.

Ducournau said she previously believed that Palme d’Or-winning films were perfect. “I’m on that stage tonight too, but I know my movie isn’t perfect – but I don’t think any movie is perfect in the eyes of its creator. You could even say mine is monstrous,” she said.

Her movies almost defy definition. A feminist revenge thriller, thriller, or fantasy film twisted around a serial killer who is laced into a car and then takes on the identity of a missing boy, it has was called the festival’s most “shocking” film.

Earlier in the week, jury member Maggie Gyllenhaal told WWD that the group had very diverse opinions. It turned out that maybe they couldn’t agree – and it led to two relationships.

The Grand Prix, a silver medal after the Palme d’Or, went to both Asghar Farhadi’s “A Hero” and Juho Kuosmanen’s “Cave 6”, and the Jury Prize was also doubled, to both “of Nadav Lapid” Ahed’s Knee” and “Memoria” by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, starring Tilda Swinton.

Weerasethakul, also known as Joe, took to the stage to thank Swinton. “You have given me the greatest gift of spirit and strength. We’ve talked about this dream many times,” he said of the multi-year film. “You are one of the most incredible human beings I have ever met.”

“Annette,” the tragic musical starring Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, won Best Director for Leos Carax. The award was received by Sparks, the Los Angeles-based musical duo who collaborated with Carax on the film.

Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi was awarded Best Screenplay for the film adaptation of “Drive My Car” by Haruki Murakami. Best Actress went to Renate Reinsve for the story of a young woman plagued by a lack of confidence in “The World’s Worst Person,” and male to Caleb Landry Jones for his portrayal of the perpetrator of the Crime. Port Arthur massacre in Australia in “Nitram.” After that, he was too shaken and couldn’t even speak, and after a while he thanked the audience and slapped himself in the face.

Rosamund Pike is on hand to present the Jury Prize in red Dior cape, and French actress Adele Exarchopoulos wearing Jacquemus. Oliver Stone presented the director, saying the film should not be “generated by algorithms.”

But much of the action takes place in the jury’s chair, where the group – including Gyllenhaal and Mélanie Laurent – try to keep the boisterous Lee in check. Tahar Rahim sat on a chair to translate for him, and Laurent took the mic, giving it to Lee only when he had to announce the award.

And finally, the Palme d’Or award ceremony. Capturing his big moment, Lee said: “In 63 years of my life, I’ve learned that you can get a second chance. So this is my second chance. I’m sorry for messing up.”

Except he still missed the mark. Special guest Sharon Stone is expected to present the award. The stage door was raised significantly, but Stone didn’t show up until the judges again pulled Lee back and he hugged Rahim, laughing.

If there was a script for the ceremony, no one seemed to share it with Lee. But with audiences and award presenters laughing hysterically at humorous errors, chaotic energy has spread and enveloped this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Two weeks ago, no one was sure the COVID-19 era carnival could be held, but it ended on a high note.


Huynh Nguyen

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