The 74th Cannes Film Festival came to a close this evening of July 17, 2021. Taking place two months later than usual, this year’s film festival has been much anticipated after last year’s cancellation. After watching the 24 feature films in Competition, the jury, presided by Spike Lee, who nearly revealed the winner of the Palme d’or too soon, presented the awards at the Closing Ceremony.
During the Closing Ceremony, Italian director Marco Bellochio received an Honorary Palme d’Or for his extraordinary filmmaking career. The audience gave Bellochio a standing ovation—another of the many very long standing ovations from the masked audiences of this festival. Imagination and courage are the two essential ingredients to making films, Bellochio said as he accepted his award. Jodie Foster was also awarded an Honorary Palme d’Or for her amazing career during the Opening Ceremony.
The winner of the Palme d’Or 2021 becomes the second female director to win the prize. Only four female directors, out of the 24 films, were selected for Competition this year.
The Palme d’or, presented by Sharon Stone, was awarded to Titane directed by Julia Ducournau. In winning, Ducournau makes history for being the second woman to win the Palme d’Or in 74 years. Jane Campion won the coveted prize in 1993, jointly with Chen Kaige.
The two lead actors, Vincent Lindon and Agathe Rousselle, joined Ducournau on stage as she accepted the prize. The film made quite the sensation when it screened, praised by some, while heavily criticized by others who described it as “monstrous” as Ducournau pointed out.
Titane is Ducournau’s second feature film, after her body horror debut feature Raw. Titane was deemed by critics as one of the most shocking and violent films selected in Competition this year, and has been compared by many to David Cronenberg’s Crash. In her acceptance speech, Ducournau wished for more diversity and inclusivity.
The Grand Prix, presented by director Oliver Stone, was awarded to two films this year: Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero and Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment n°6. Compartment n°6 is an adaptation of the novel written by Finnish author Rosa Liksom.
Caleb Landry Jones won the Prix de l’Interprétation masculine (Best Actor) for his role in Nitram, directed by Justin Kurzel. The film is about the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 Australia.
Renate Reinsve won the Prix de l’Interprétation féminine (Best Actress) for her role in Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World. The film follows Julie’s existential crisis as she turns thirty.
The Prix du Jury (Jury Prize) was also awarded to two films: Le Genou d’Ahed (Ahed’s Knee) directed by Nadav Lapid, and Memoria directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul starring Tilda Swinton and Jeanne Balibar. The prize was presented by Rosamund Pike in perfect French.
Leos Carax received the Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director) for his Sparks musical Annette starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. The prize was accepted by the Ron and Russell Mael from the band Sparks, who co-wrote the script. The film is being released by Amazon Prime, in theaters in August 6, and digitally on August 20.
The Prix du Scénario (Best Screenplay), presented by director Andrea Arnold, was awarded to Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe for Drive my Car. The film is a three-hour long adaptation of a short story written by Haruki Murakami.
Un Certain Regard
The ceremony for the 2021 Un Certain Regard, a section which focuses on the discovery of emerging filmmakers, took place the evening before, on July 16. The Jury for the Un Certain Regard section was headed by director and screenwriter Andrea Arnold, and consisted of five other jurors, director Mounia Meddour, actress Elsa Zylberstein, director Daniel Burman and director and actor Michael Covino. The Un Certain Regard Prize was awarded to Kira Kovalenko’s Razzhimaya Kulaki (Unclenching the Fists), a Russian drama with an “explosion of originality, physicality and feeling” according to Andrea Arnold. The film was picked up for distribution in North America, the U.K., Ireland, India and Latin America by MUBI.
Sebastian Meise’s Grosse Freiheit (Great Freedom), starring Franz Rogowski and Georg Friedrich, was awarded the Jury Prize. The Austrian film, about a man who keeps on being imprisoned for being a homosexual, set in postwar Germany, was also bought by MUBI for release in North America, the U.K., Ireland, India, Turkey and Latin America.
Hafsia Herzi’s Bonne Mère (Good Mother) received the Ensemble Prize. Teodora Ana Mihai’s debut feature La Civil was awarded the Courage Prize. Icelandic film Lamb, directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, starring Noomi Rapace, was given the Prize of Originality. The U.S. rights to the film were bought by A24, and will be released by MUBI in the U.K., Ireland, India, Brazil, and other territories.
The Camera d’Or, for the best first feature film presented at Cannes, was awarded to Murina, directed by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović.