Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall, a tense courtroom drama concerning a woman accused of murdering her husband, has received the Palme d’Or at the 76th Cannes film festival.
Jane Fonda, a legend of cinema, who told us she first came here in 1963, was there to present the prize to a slightly unexpected winner.
“There were no women directors then, and it never occurred to us there was something wrong with that,” Fonda said of her first visit.
Triet becomes the third woman to win the Palme – after Jane Campion in 1993 and Julia Ducournau, a jury member this year, in 2021.
Triet, born in Normandy, gave a powerful speech referencing the protests against reforms in pension laws that have recently swept her country.
“These protests were denied, repressed in a shocking way,” she said. “You can also see this in all other spheres of society – including the cinema. The merchandisation of culture defended by a liberal government is breaking the French cultural exception.”
The veteran producer Roger Corman, a legend at 97, joined Quentin Tarantino, among the older man’s most fervent fans, to present the Grand Prix. “My hero!” Tarantino said. The huge standing ovation for Corman, walking with a stick, but still apparently hearty, was perhaps the most moving moment of the night.
The Grand Prix, essentially runner-up, went to The Zone of Interest by Jonathan Glazer. Based loosely on a novel by Martin Amis – who died on the day of the premier – the film coolly and dispassionately follows the bourgeois lives of the Auschwitz commandant and his wife while, heard faintly in middle distance, prisoners are murdered in their thousands. It was much-predicted to win the big prize.
“I want to honour the memory of Martin Amis,” Glazer said from the stage. “I am so grateful we got to show the film to him.’”
Best actor went to Kōji Yakusho for Wim Wenders’s charming humanist drama Perfect Days. The Japanese performer plays a lavatory cleaner in contemporary Japan who shows how to live a simple, but largely content, life as an older man in an unglamorous job.
Wenders, who won the Palme d’Or for Paris Texas, in 1984 was visibly moved by his actor’s triumph.
Yakusho had been much predicted as winner following Perfect Days’ premiere towards the end of the event. The audience was more surprised by the awarding of best actress to Merve Dizdar for Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s epic drama About Dry Grasses.
“I am so moved that I can’t find the right words and I have forgotten my mother tongue, which is Turkish,” Dizadar said from the stage.
Many expected that prize to go to Sandra Hüller for Anatomy of a Fall, but the eccentric rules prohibit the same film wining the Palme and acting awards. Hüller may have suffered from her film’s larger triumph.
Orlando Bloom gave the Jury Prize to the lovely Fallen Leaves from experienced Finnish eccentric Aki Kaurismäki. Dealing with an awkward couple finding some solace in an unkind world, the film continued Kaurismäki’s interest in quiet humanity
The director could not be there, but sent a characteristic, brief message. “I am deeply honoured in this festival which continues to give life to the cinema – and twist and shout!” it read.
The 76th edition was largely seen as a success. Ruben Östlund, last year’s Palme d’Or winner, headed a jury that also included such professionals as actors Paul Dano and Brie Larson.
Away from the man competition, two of the year’s big commercial movies made their debut on the Croisette. Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, a drama concerning murders among a native American community in 1920s Oklahoma, premiered to hugely positive reviews. That film, produced by Apple, now looks certain to be a big player in the 2024 awards season following its wide release in October.
James Mangold’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was less warmly received, but Harrison Ford’s charmingly modest performance at the event – where he was awarded an honorary Palme d’Or – will have done much to stoke enthusiasm for the fifth and last film in the adventure franchise.
As ever there were disputes, big and small. Ticketing was not as efficient as it might have been. Thierry Fremaux, festival director, had to field questions about opening the event with Maiwenn’s Jeanne du Barry, starring the still-controversial Johnny Depp as Louis XV.
But the main competition was strong and, defying heavy rain in the opening week, the attendees’ elbow-scuffing enthusiasm did much to dispel arguments about the decline in theatrical exhibition.
CANNES 2023 AWARDS
Palme d’Or: Anatomy of a Fall
Grand Prix: The Zone of Interest
Director: Tran Anh Hung (Le Pot-au-Feu)
Jury Prize: Fallen Leaves
Actor: Koji Yakusho (Perfect Days)
Actress: Merve Dizdar (About Dry Grasses)
Screenplay: Yuki Sakamoto (Monster)
Camera d’Or for first film: Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell by Thien An Pham
Short Film Palme d’Or: 27 by Flóra Anna Buda