x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Cannes Diary: Blue Is The Warmest Colour wins coveted Palme d'Or

The final installment of our behind-the-scenes look at the Cannes Film Festival.

Following a 10-day frenzy of parties, jewel thefts, glamorous gowns and extreme weather, the 66th Cannes Film Festival reached its feverish conclusion on Sunday night with a prize-giving ceremony hosted by the French actress Audrey Tautou. The jury, led by Steven Spielberg and Nicole Kidman, was joined on stage by an army of international stars, including Orlando Bloom, Forest Whitaker, Uma Thurman, Asia Argento and Mads Mikkelsen.

Nobody was surprised when the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, went to the widely admired front-runner, the emotionally powerful love story Blue Is The Warmest Colour.

At the ceremony, the film’s French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche dedicated his award to the Tunisian revolution. “Young people in France often are way ahead of my generation in their thinking,” he said. “Tunisian youth are the same: that’s why there was a revolution. The older people didn’t listen.”

The Grand Prize and Jury Prize, essentially silver and bronze medals, went to two more hotly tipped favourites: the tender -retro-comedy Inside Llewyn Davis by the American duo Joel and Ethan Coen, and the uplifting child-swap family drama Like Father, Like Son by the Japanese director Koreeda Hirokazu. The jury’s only truly unexpected choice was awarding Best Director to Mexico’s Amat Escalante for Heli, a depressingly grim underworld revenge thriller that most critics disliked.

Best Actor went to the 76-year-old Hollywood actor Bruce Dern for his impressively unsympathetic turn in Nebraska, the latest bittersweet, road-movie comedy from the director Alexander Payne. Dern joined a large contingent of veteran stars in Cannes, including Jane Fonda (75), Robert Redford (76), the French legend Alain Delon (77), Roman Polanski (79), Kim Novak (80) and Jerry Lewis (87), who premiered his first film in almost two decades, the clunky, sentimental Max Rose.

Best Actress went to Berenice Bejo for her role in the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, a post-divorce drama so moving that Bejo herself cried after the gala screening. Indeed, the phenomenon of weeping stars has been a recurring Cannes theme, with Michael Douglas choking back sobs at the press conference for Behind The Candelabra, Marion Cotillard welling up on the red carpet, and the actress Lea Seydoux promoting Blue Is The Warmest Colour with tears streaming down her cheeks. Why was she crying? Nobody knows.

But after 10 days in Cannes, we can only assume they were tears of relief that the world’s most frenetic film festival is finally over for another year.

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