At the 2021 Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, jury president Spike Lee jumped the gun by announcing Palme d’Or winner ‘Titane’ before any other award. While Caleb Landry Jones won the best actor award, Norwegian star Renate Reinsve took home the award for best actress. According to Variety, with ‘Titane’, French director Julia Ducournau delivered a radical horror story of a young female killer who has sex with cars after surviving a childhood crash.
The film made Ducournau the second female filmmaker to win the festival’s top honour in its 74-year history, and though this big win was goofed up by Lee, she didn’t come to the stage to accept the award until its formal announcement at the end of the ceremony. Turns out, the run-of-show slip was the first of many surprises, which later included two ties.
While accepting her prize, Ducournau described watching the Cannes awards each year as a child. She said,” At that time, I was sure that all the films awarded must have been perfect because they were on the stage. And tonight, I’m on that same stage, but I know my film is not perfect — but I think no film is perfect in the eyes of the person who made it. You could even say mine is monstrous.”
Earlier in the night, the jury honoured ‘Nitram’, the unconventional portrait of a mass killing. The first winner to accept an award was that film’s star Caleb Landry Jones, who appeared so nervous at the podium that declined to give a speech, lest he throws up. Jones earned the best actor award for his stunning performance as the perpetrator of the Australian Port Arthur Massacre.
Best actress honours went to Norwegian thespian Renate Reinsve for her luminous turn in ‘The Worst Person in the World’, about a young woman who judges herself harshly for being unable to decide between lovers, career paths and whether she wants to raise a family. Leos Carax earned the best director award for ‘Annette’, a tragic musical about a celebrity couple (played by Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard) whose clashing careers create rifts in their relationship.
Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi was awarded best screenplay for his three-hour adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s ‘Drive My Car’, which finds new depths in the author’s 40-page short story. In another tie, special jury prizes were given to Nadav Lapid ‘Ahed’s Knee’ and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Memoria’.
Jury president Lee presided over a majority-female group that included French-Senegalese actor-director Mati Diop, American actor-filmmaker Maggie Gyllenhaal, Austrian director Jessica Hausner, French actor-helmer Melanie Laurent, Brazilian helmer Kleber Mendonca Filho, French actor Tahar Rahim, South Korean actor Song Kang-ho and cult French singer Mylene Farmer.
Cannes’ prestigious first-feature prize, the Camera d’Or, was awarded to Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s ‘Murina’, a Croatian coming-of-age story about a young woman negotiating her attraction to a stranger who arrives on her remote island. Selected by a special jury headed by Melanie Thierry from among 31 debut features across all sections of the festival, the Directors’ Fortnight discovery was produced by Martin Scorsese.
Cannes 2021 Winners Complete List:
Palme d’Or: ‘Titane’
Grand Prix — TIE: Asghar Farhadi, ‘A Hero’ and Juho Kuosmanen’s ‘Compartment No. 6’
Director: Leos Carax, ‘Annette’
Actor: Caleb Landry Jones, ‘Nitram’
Actress: Renate Reinsve, ‘The Worst Person in the World’
Jury Prize — Tie: Nadav Lapid’s ‘Ahed’s Knee’ and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Memoria’
Screenplay: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, ‘Drive My Car’
Camera d’Or: ‘Murina’, Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
Short Films Palme d’Or: ‘All the Crows in the World’, Tang Yi
Short Films Special Mention: ‘August Sky’, Jasmin Tenucci
Golden Eye Documentary Prize: ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’, Payal Kapadia
Queer Palm: ‘The Divide’
Un Certain Regard
Un Certain Regard Award: ‘Unclenching the Fists’, Kira Kovalenko
Jury Prize: “Great Freedom,” Sebastian Meise
Prize for Ensemble Performance: ‘Bonne Mere’, Hafsia Herzi
Prize for Courage: ‘La Civil’, Teodora Ana Mihai
Prize for Originality: ‘Lamb’, Valdimar Johannsson
Special Mention: ‘Prayers for the Stolen’, Tatiana Huezo
Europa Cinemas Label: ‘A Chiara’, Jonas Carpignano
Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: ‘Magnetic Beats’, Vincent Mael Cardona
Nespresso Grand Prize: ‘Feathers’, Omar El Zohairy
Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: Elie Grappe and Raphaelle Desplechin, ‘Olga’
GAN Foundation Award for Distribution: Elie Grappe and Raphaelle Desplechin, ‘Zero Fucks Given’
Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award: Sandra Melissa Torres, ‘Amparo’
First Prize: ‘The Salamander Child’, Theo Degen
Second Prize: ‘Salamander’, Yoon Daewoon
Third Prize — Tie: ‘Love Stories on the Move’, Carina-Gabriela Dasoveanu and ‘Cantareira’, Rodrigo Ribeyro
This was the first full-scale film festival to take place since the start of the pandemic. Last year’s Cannes event was canceled. The last film to take the Palme d’Or was Bong Joon Ho’s ‘Parasite’ in 2019, which later swept the award circuit and won Best Picture at the 2020 Academy Awards.