Cannes Film Festival 2021: 'Titane' wins Palme d'Or; Julia Ducournau becomes second female director to win top prize

French filmmaker Julia Ducournau has turn out to be solely the second feminine director to win the Palme d’Or, the Cannes Film Festival’s high prize, for her movie “Titane.”

In a shock second, jury president Spike Lee introduced the win in error early within the awards ceremony after a miscommunication. Gasps rang across the Grand Theatre Lumiere earlier than the ceremony collected itself and reverted to the conventional operating order. The awkward ambiance didn’t dissipate, nonetheless, with the sometimes garrulous Lee noticeably bashful.

“Raw” director Ducournau returned to Cannes together with her second movie, her first in competitors. “Titane” tells the story of a younger lady who survives a automotive crash as a baby and goes on to have a peculiar relationship with vehicles in maturity. It divided critics with vocal supporters and detractors, however the jury of Lee, fellow administrators Mati Diop, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Jessica Hausner, actors Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Tahar Rahim and Song Kang-ho and singer-songwriter Mylène Farmer noticed match to award it high honors.

Spike Lee, Jury members Tahar Rahim, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jessica Hausner and Mélanie Laurent on stage during the closing ceremony.

Spike Lee, Jury members Tahar Rahim, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jessica Hausner and Mélanie Laurent on stage throughout the closing ceremony. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images

The Grand Prix — the competition’s second prize — was collectively awarded to Asghar Farhadi’s “A Hero” and Juho Kusomanen’s “Compartment No.6.”

A two-time Oscar winner from Iran, Farhadi’s intricate morality play “A Hero” facilities on a prisoner whose good deed on day launch units off a series of fortune and misfortune.

“Compartment No.6” has been in comparison with a “Finnish ‘Before Sunrise‘” for its offbeat meet-cute set on a prepare.

“Memoria” by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul and “Ahed’s Knee” by Israeli Nadav Lapid shared the Jury Prize.

Best director went to Frenchman Leos Carax for his musical “Annette,” starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard as A-list lovers in a doomed romance, set to music by cult pop duo Sparks. Best screenplay was awarded to Ryusuke Hamaguchi for “Drive My Car,” the Japanese director’s adaptation of a Haruki Murakami quick story.

Best actor went to Caleb Landry Jones for “Nitram,” Justin Kurzel’s retelling of the 1996 Port Arthur bloodbath in Australia, whereas greatest actress went to Renate Reinsve for Joachim Trier’s “The Worst Person in the World.”

Camera d’Or for first movie (and award spanning the Official Selection and the broader program’s The Director’s Fortnight and Critics’ Week) went to Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic for “Murina,” her tense household drama set on the Adriatic Coast.

The reviews of cinema’s dying have been drastically exaggerated.

"Memoria" by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

“Memoria” by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Credit: Kick the Machine Films/Burning/Anna Sanders Films/Match Factory Productions/ZDF-Arte/Piano

After Cannes was canceled in 2020, the competition got down to be the savior of cinema by returning huge motion pictures to the large display screen. Many festivals have, previously 12 months, gone hybrid or digital (Venice being the notable exception), however this could not do for the Côte d’Azur. There isn’t any glamor to be discovered at on-line screenings, and what’s Cannes with out glamor? Diamonds and couture don’t {photograph} properly on Zoom.

No one would ever accuse the competition of pondering too little of itself, however when a program stacked with large names was unveiled in June, Cannes’ savior advanced began trying justified.

A rumbling pandemic had different concepts. Covid-19 restrictions have made life tough for touring trade figures and press, a lot of whom had been required to take exams each 48 hours as a way to entry the Palais des Festivals. (Twitter has been awash with practically as many critiques of saliva samples as of movies in current weeks.) Some, alas, didn’t make it — together with this author. But maybe extra importantly for competition organizers, Lea Seydoux, who would have been in every single place with no fewer than 4 movies within the Official Selection, was saved at residence by a constructive coronavirus take a look at (she is reportedly asymptomatic).

Tilda Swinton crammed the void, her ethereal presence gracing movies by Joanna Hogg, Wes Anderson, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Mark Cousins — as assorted a gaggle a administrators as one may hope to assemble.

Many competition luminaries returned to the Croisette, offering speaking factors however leaving empty handed. Among them had been Jacques Audiard, Bruno Dumont, François Ozon and Nanni Moretti.

Another previous hand was Paul Verhoeven, an agent provocateur who’s been strolling the tight rope of excessive trash/excessive artwork (relying on the way you learn his movies) for years now. “Benedetta,” his historic nunsploitation film starring Virginie Efira, wasn’t missing in controversy.

Indeed, each “Annette” and “Benedetta” contributed to what was a sexy previous competition on many accounts. Other developments this 12 months included seemingly each different movie being in comparison with the Safdie brothers’ “Uncut Gems,” and the meme-ification of “The French Dispatch’s” photo call (who knew Timothée Chalamet, Wes Anderson, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray had been so relatable?).
"Benedetta" by Paul Verhoeven.

“Benedetta” by Paul Verhoeven. Credit: Guy Ferrandis/SBS Productions

Once the froth of the competition settles, what’s left is one other crop of movies from world wide, from locations anticipated and never, rated, reviewed and able to discover their technique to the general public. So Cannes’ mission might be mentioned to be a hit.

Cannes has at all times been a case of “in with the new,” making a pause to mirror on what’s come earlier than all of the extra essential. Mark Cousins supplied that together with his documentary “The Story of Film: A New Generation,” which preceded the opening ceremony and solid a watch over the previous decade of cinema. In it, he posed the query: Which movies have pushed the boundaries of the medium? Moreover, how?

It’s a helpful body by way of which to view cinema, beset as it’s with doomsayers bemoaning the streaming wars and the recycling of mental property. New issues are occurring throughout us — so long as you are trying in the precise locations. It’s additionally a helpful body by way of which to view Cannes, the place there may be at all times extra to debate than time permits.

Here’s a number of movies, from each the 2021 competition’s Official Selection and wider program, that pushed boundaries and injected new life into cinema.

“Petrov’s Flu” (dir. Kirill Serebrennikov)

"Petrov's Flu" by Kirill Serebrennikov.

“Petrov’s Flu” by Kirill Serebrennikov. Credit: Hype Film

Kirill Serebrennikov takes us on a 24-hour tour of Yekaterinburg on New Year’s Eve that is much less “Ulysses”-of-the-Urals and extra like leaping right into a Hieronymus Bosch portray of post-Soviet Russia.

Our unwitting information is Petrov (Semyon Serzin), a comic book ebook artist whose bout of flu sends viewers right into a tailspin. He’s feverish, the town’s febrile, and occasions — actual and imagined — collide. From a crowded bus to a public execution after which into the again of a stolen hearse, we experience with the protagonist alongside the underbelly of society, assembly an ensemble of characters painted in shades absurd, grotesque and pathetic.

Petrov’s librarian spouse Petrova (Chulpan Khamatova) is not faring significantly better, with a murderous streak that might be truth or fiction. Frankly, it is exhausting to inform. Meanwhile, their son’s temperature is creeping up.

Based on Alexey Salnikov’s novel “The Petrovs In and Around the Flu,” Serebrennikov’s adaptation is Dostoevsky learn by way of a kaleidoscope. Characters, scenes and units collapse in on each other — generally actually — and sometimes in outrageous lengthy takes that baffle as a lot as they beguile. It’s cinema as surreal, relentless spectacle, recalling Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors” and Aleksei German’s “Hard to be a God,” however wholly Serebrennikov’s personal groove: furiously ingenious, brutish at occasions, unexpectedly tender at others.

The Russian director, barred from leaving the country to attend the festival, installs a nostalgic backstory that dovetails with the remainder of the narrative solely within the closing phases. Characters retreat into fantasy, but in addition the previous. It suggests a craving — if not for the previous, then perhaps for less complicated occasions or ones when the rot was much less pervasive. The movie’s manifesto could also be unclear, however its analysis is extra so: a metropolis and its individuals are sick.

“Neptune Frost” (dir. Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman)

"Neptune Frost" by Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman.

“Neptune Frost” by Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman. Credit: Swan Films

With the backing of Lin-Manual Miranda and Ezra Miller comes a Rwandan Afrofuturist musical that is additionally an exploration of intersex identification. There’s loads happening in Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman’s movie a few collective of cyberpunk revolutionaries; kudos to the administrators that a lot of it really works.

Circumstances convey collectively exploited miner Matalusa (Kaya Free) and intersex Neptune (performed by each Elvis Ngabo and Cheryl Isheja), whose union attracts different revolutionaries to their trigger. As one in all Matalusa’s fellow rare-mineral miners notes, “We power systems more effectively than we destroy them.” Time for that to alter. Costumed in discarded tech (Matalusa’s QWERTY key jacket is a spotlight), these keyboard warriors are out to rework the actual world and take down the unnamed “Authority.”

Just just like the characters who sing “Neither/neither, Won’t be either/either,” the script talks in metaphor and riddle, often talking to a couple of side of the story concurrently. Meaning stacks up, however also can turn out to be obscured. But if the movie’s narrative is difficult to observe at occasions, what’s unmistakable is how good the music is — rhythmic, communal and unpretentious. “Neptune Frost” is a musical that wears its musicality frivolously.

Staunchly intersectional, wildly bold, it is a movie that crops a seed of countercultural hope whereas pushing again the boundaries of the style.

“Hit the Road” (dir. Panah Panahi)

"Hit the Road" by Panah Panahi.

“Hit the Road” by Panah Panahi. Credit: JP Production

From the synopsis, Panah Panahi’s debut reads like an Iranian “Little Miss Sunshine”: A candy however dysfunctional household street journey, full with charismatic teen, surly older brother and troublesome cargo within the trunk. And it is all that — but in addition way more.

We meet the household on the street. Mom (Pantea Panahiha) is up entrance whereas Dad (Hassan Madjooni) rides within the again together with his leg in a solid, struggling to manage chatty teen (a breakout Rayan Sarlak). Big brother (Amin Simiar) is on the wheel and notably quiet. More notable nonetheless, we do not know why they’re on the street, or why SIM playing cards are being destroyed amid fears the household is being tailed.

Some viewers will understand the reality faster than others, however frankly it would not matter. For essentially the most half, we’re too occupied with the journey to consider the vacation spot.

Panahi (son of Cannes favourite, Jafar) has crafted a beautiful four-wheeled chamber piece round 4 terrific performances. Sarlak’s youthful power prods on the older actors, whereas Panahiha, seamlessly shifting up and down the gears, has the toughest process of all because the movie’s emotional linchpin (it was the strongest efficiency on the competition I noticed). For many people, separated from family members previously 18 months, there’s poignant pleasure in watching a household bicker. We perceive that, regardless of the exasperation, each phrase is underwritten with love. And when the dialog turns severe, it lands all of the more durable.

This is a movie that radiates heat, defending Panahi’s characters — and the viewers — in opposition to a devastating word at its coronary heart. You’ll miss your time hitching a experience alongside them.

“Great Freedom” (dir. Sebastian Meise)

"Great Freedom" by Sebastian Meise.

“Great Freedom” by Sebastian Meise. Credit: Freibeuterfilm_Rohfilm

Franz Rogowski is an actor on the high of his sport, and he is by no means had a greater automobile than Sebastian Meise’s time-hopping jail drama.

Hans (Rogowski) is a homosexual man in mid-century West Germany serving a number of sentences underneath Paragraph 175, a historic legislation criminalizing sexual acts between males. It’s the identical legislation that put him in a focus camp in World War II and, remarkably, noticed him transferred to jail as soon as the camp was liberated.

We journey by way of time, through Hans’ journeys to an isolation cell (lights off, lights on), reemerging with teddy boy hairstyle or a porn-star-style moustache to assist viewers distinguish between 1945, 1957 and 1968. The males in Hans’ life are doing that too, arriving within the narrative at three distinct phases.

The first pictures we see of Hans are secret recordings of him partaking in sexual acts with all-comers in a public bathroom. Used as proof in courtroom, it is also how the legislation sees him — circumscribes him, even. The actuality is that he longs for deeper relationships in a society that views his existence as against the law. Inside jail, he bends the principles in his quest for intimacy: tactical punishment as a way to share a cell or sending coded messages in a Bible to his fellow inmate. The most touching moments come through Leo (Anton von Lucke), a trainer Hans connected with on the skin, and Viktor (Georg Friedrich), the gruff, initially homophobic lifer.

Meise’s movie would not keep away from the cliches of jail dramas however as an alternative fixates on subverting them. Gay characters, who within the style’s heteronormative movies are sometimes diminished to caricatures and simply discarded, fill the body right here; they’re our sole concern.

Few can maintain the lens just like the supple, soft-spoken Rogowski, who by the top has audiences within the palm of his hand. What he and Meise conspire to do within the closing 10 minutes is nothing wanting a marvel.

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