It was a night of success for the French film industry, confirming the consistent levels of quality of French cinema of recent years
After a number of years in the wilderness in Cannes, the French are back in force in the last few years. This year again, the Palme d’Or was awarded to a French film for the third time in four years by an international jury headed by the Coen Brothers. The American-led jury gave the festival’s highest honour to “Dheepan” by Jacques Audiard. Telling the story of Sri-Lankan refugees facing further conflict in the Paris suburbs, it’s the first film from Audiard since his superb “Rust and Bone” three years ago.
“To be accepting a prize from the Coen brothers – that’s something pretty special,” said a delighted and emotional Audiard upon receiving his prize at the glittering award ceremony in Cannes last night. “I’m thinking of my father.”
Audiard’s father (Michel Audiard) was a distinctive face in French cinema for over 40 years before his death in 1985 at the age of 65. It’s the first time that Audiard the younger has won the Palme d’Or, despite a highly impressive career as a director. His début feature film “Regarde les Hommes Tomber” (Watch the Men Fall) won the César for best film in 1994. He also directed “Un Prophète” (A Prophet) in 2005 and “Rust and Bone” in 2010, both of which won multiple awards.The other big winners for France were in the two main acting categories. Veteran leading man Vincent Lindon won the Best Actor award for his role in “La Loi du Marché” – a story of a man who’s been unemployed for 20 months and who struggles to maintain his dignity. In his acceptance speech, the emotional Lindon dedicated his prize “to the citizens left aside”, before adding “It’s the first time I ever got a prize for acting… This is one of the three best days of my life.”
The hat-trick of French victories was completed by Emmanuel Bercot who won Best Actress for her role in “Mon Roi” – a film by female director Maïwenn and which also stars Vincent Cassel in which Bercot plays the part of a lawyer who awakes after a skiing accident to find herself in a physical rehabilitation clinic. She was given the award jointly along wtih the American actress Rooney Mara (from the film “Carol”).
A delighted President François Hollande congratulated all prizewinners individually before saying in a statement that “These awards evoke all the diversity, openness and creativity of French cinema and the efficiency and originality of its funding structure which I absolutely wish to preserve and defend at a European level.”
One of the reasons that France finds itself at the pinnacle of cinematic endeavour is because of its funding system that takes a share of cinema entrance tickets in a specific tax that is reinvested in one of Europe’s most creative and well-funded cinematic industries.
There was some Irish interest in the fact that Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ international film “Lobster” – which was partly shot in Kerry and whose largely Anglo-American cast includes Irishman Colin Farrell – was awarded the Jury Prize.
Full List of Awards in Cannes 2015:
DHEEPAN, by Jacques Audiard
SAUL FIA (Son of Saul) by László NEMES
Best Director Award:
HOU Hsiao-Hsien for NIE YINNIANG (The Assassin)
THE LOBSTER by Yorgos LANTHIMOS
Best Actress Award:
Rooney MARA in CAROL by Todd HAYNES
Emmanuelle BERCOT in MON ROI by MAÏWENN
Best Actor Award:
Vincent LINDON in LA LOI DU MARCHÉ (The Measure of a Man) by Stéphane BRIZÉ
Best Screenplay Award:
Michel FRANCO for CHRONIC
SHORT FILMS – COMPETITION
WAVES ’98 by Ely DAGHER
LA TIERRA Y LA SOMBRA by César Augusto ACEVEDO presented during La Semaine de la Critique
The director and French artist, Agnès Varda, received an honorary Palme d’Or for her collected works from Jane Birkin.