Discover the daring winners of the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

Discover the daring winners of the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

Daring, the choices of the Cannes Festival jury highlight several films which magnify the strength of female characters, including the Palme d'Or heroine Anora, by Sean Baker.

For this 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival chaired by actress and filmmaker Greta Gerwig (director of barbie), most of the films awarded by the jury highlight female characters who are marginal or question conventions and traditions. At the risk of shocking, these heroines forcefully assert their life choices, their desires and their identities. The Palme d’Or awarded to Anora, by Sean Baker, is one of the most striking examples. A filmmaker of the American new wave, the 53-year-old director depicts the fate of a New York prostitute who falls in love with the son of Russian oligarchs. In this tragicomic fiction, Sean Baker continues his exploration of the underbelly of capitalist society through the fate of sex workers to whom he has also dedicated his Palme d'Or. “There are thousands of stories to tell in the field of prostitution. They are universal stories and thousands of people can identify with these characters around the world,” he said during the press conference dedicated to to his film on May 22.

Double price for Audiard

Referring to an equally shady universe, Emilia Perez, the musical comedy by Jacques Audiard (Palme d’Or 2015 for Dheepan), was widely rewarded. This abundant fiction traces the story of a repentant transgender Mexican cartel leader. The work received the jury prize and that of the female interpretation which, exceptionally, is an ensemble prize awarded to the four main actresses of the feature film. Breathtaking with their energy, Selena Gomez, Zoe Saldana, Adriana Paz and the transgender Spanish actress Karla Sofia Gascon inhabit this atypical work which addresses the theme of reconciliation between the victims of drug trafficking and their tormentors.

Awarded a week before the Mexican presidential elections, this feature film resonates with current events, in the same way as another film, distinguished by the special jury prize: The seeds of the wild fig tree, by Mohammad Rasoulof. Screened at the end of the festival, this committed work produced a shock wave on the Cannes public. It features a father under the influence of the Iranian regime and whose political choices are questioned by his daughters. “When religion is associated with political power and patriarchy, it can destroy the most intimate relationships and the dignity of people, as this Iranian family drama embodies,” declared the members of the ecumenical jury who, a few hours before the closing ceremony of the festival, awarded their own prize also to the Seeds of the wild fig tree.

A highly political choice

Unexpected, the presence of the Iranian director at Cannes created an event. Having left Iran clandestinely on foot, in order to escape a prison sentence for “collusion against national security”, Mohammad Rasoulof said he was satisfied to receive this distinction but also very concerned about the situation in his country. “I have a thought for the members of my team (…) held in Iran and who are under pressure from the secret services of the Islamic Republic,” declared the filmmaker who was already incarcerated in Evin prison alongside of his Iranian colleague Jafar Panahi. In a country which suffered from the repression of the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement (after the death of Mahsa Amini, in September 2022, which moved the whole world), the Iranian regime has still not loosened its grip. . However, beyond the personal risks they run, filmmakers such as Mohammad Rasoulof, Jafar Panahi, Alireza Khatami and Ali Asgari continue to film, at the risk of their lives, the ravages of totalitarian rule. The cry of warning launched by the Iranian director during this closing ceremony was as powerful as it was necessary.

The main prices

  • Palme d'Or Anora, by Sean Baker (United States)
  • Jury Prize Emilia Perez, by Jacques Audiard (France)
  • Female Actor Award Adriana Paz, Zoe Saldana, Karla Sofia Gascon and Selena Gomez in Emilia Perez, by Jacques Audiard.
  • Grand Prix All We Imagine as Light, by Payal Kapadia (India), which depicts the thwarted loves of three women living in Mumbai.
  • Special Prize and Ecumenical Jury Prize The seeds of the wild fig tree, by Mohammad Rasoulof (Iran) Miguel Gomes Best Director Award (Portugal) for Grand Tour, fiction evoking the journey of a woman in search of her fiancé across South-East Asia .
  • Male Actor Award Jesse Plemons for his role in Kinds of Kindness by Yorgos Lanthimos (Greece), which deals with authority, control and free will.

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