Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters, about a family’s struggle to survive on the margins of the economy, won the Palme d’Or, the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival, on Saturday.
Kore-eda has been steadily wooing the arthouse circuit over the past few years with his films Nobody Knows, Our Little Sister, After the Storm, and The Third Murder. The official synopsis for his latest movie to explore the strains on the Japanese family is as follows: “After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them…”
Shoplifters upset the other big Asian title at the festival, Korean director Lee Chang-dong’s Burning. Based on Haraki Murakami’s short story Barn Burning, Lee’s film was widely tipped to win the top honour. Lee has previously won a best screenplay award at Cannes for Poetry in 2010, and his Oasis was nominated for the top award at the Venice Film Festival in 2003.
The Competition section comprised 21 titles. The jury, headed by Cate Blanchett, handed over the second most important prize of the festival, the Grand Prix, to another favourite, Spike Lee’s comedy BlacKkKlansman. This is Lee’s first win at the prestigious festival.
In BlacKkKlansman, based on Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir Black Klansman, an African American detective (John David Washington) infiltrates a Ku Klux Klan group and becomes its leader. The cast includes Adam Driver and Topher Grace. The premiere at Cannes reportedly received a 10-minute standing ovation. The movie will be released on August 10 in the United States of America, to coincide with the first anniversary of the riots triggered by a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A Special Palme d’Or was awarded to the legendary Jean-Luc Godard for The Image Book, his first film since Goodbye to Language (2014). The Image Book is “an essay film examining the role of cinema in world history”, Screen International reported, and will be the 87-year-old director’s “first UK theatrical roll-out in seven years”.
The best director award went to Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida, 2013) for Cold War, which explores the tempestuous relationship between a pianist and a singer between the 1940s and the ’60s.
The best first feature award, the Camera d’Or, went to Lukas Dhont’s Girl, about an aspiring 15-year-old ballerina who is trapped in a male body. The Belgian movie also won its 16-year-old male lead Victor Polster the best actor award in the Un Certain Regard section. “Victor showed that the most important tool for any artist is empathy,” Dhont said while accepting the award on behalf of Polster.
Girl won the Queer Palm, or the top award for queer-themed films, making it the most decorated title of the festival.
The Jury Prize went to Lebanese director Nadine Labaki’s warmly received third feature Capernaum, about a 12-year-old boy who sues his parents for bringing him into the world.
Alice Rohrwacher and Nader Saeivar shared the best screenplay for Happy As Lazarro (a magic realist fable revolving around a staged kidnapping) and 3 Faces (a road movie involving three generations of actresses). 3 Faces is Jafar Panahi’s fourth production since he was banned from filmmaking by the Iranian government.
The best actress award went to Samal Yeslyamova from Sergey Dvortsevoy’s Ayka. The Russian-Kazakhstani drama follows an illegal worker in Moscow who sets out to find her illegitimate son, whom she abandoned at birth.
Marcello Fonte won the best actor prize for Italian director Matteo Garrone’s Dogman, based on the true story of a dog groomer who is also a cocaine dealer.
Charles Williams’s All These Creatures was named the Best Short Film.
Un Certain Regard awards
Awards in the Un Certain Regard section were handed out on Friday. One Indian production was selected for the second most important category of films at Cannes – Nandita Das’s biopic Manto. Ali Abbasi’s Border won the top prize in the category. Variety described the “classification-defying film” as centring on “a Swedish customs officer with an uncanny sense of smell” who is “thrown into a moral and personal quandary over a suspicious traveler that upends the world as she knows it”.
The Best Director award was won by Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa’s Donbass. Loznitsa, the director of 2016’s acclaimed A Gentle Creature, explores the impact of propaganda and fake news in eastern Ukraine.
The best screenplay prize in this section went to Moroccan director Meryem Benm’Barek’s Sofia, about a 20-year-old woman who faces prosecution for bearing a child out of wedlock. The Special Jury Prize went to Joao Salaviza and Renee Nader Messora’s The Dead and the Others, which explores mythology and indigenous traditions in north Brazil.
The Un Certain Regard jury was headed by Benicio Del Toro.