The Cannes Film Festival 2016

I Daniel Blake

And the winner is… The very worthy winner of the Cannes Film Festival 2016 Palme d’Or is Ken Loach for his wonderful, searing film of social criticism I, Daniel Blake.

No Country For Old Men

by Alexa Dalby

Accepting the festival’s top prize from Mel Gibson, Loach said, “We must give a message of hope, we must say another world is possible. The world we live in is at a dangerous point right now. We are in the grip of a dangerous project of austerity driven by the ideas that we call neo-liberalism that have brought us to near catastrophe.”

“Some films touch your heart and soul”, jury member Donald Sutherland said. Dog and Wolf gave I, Daniel Blake a five-star review after its screening at Cannes. It’s great news for the British film industry as well as the production team of the film. Now see the full list of winners at the end of this article, some of them surprising – for instance, no recognition for the hotly tipped German comedy Toni Erdmann. Now for the Cannes festival round-up.

Apart from the jury’s surprises and needing “les parapluies de Cannes” in the rainy first week and the unprecedently heavy security presence everywhere, both in the Palais and on the streets, what has the 2016 festival been like?

Only three films in the 21 of the official competition were directed by women: Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Nicole Garcia’s From the Land of the Moon and Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann. But although Susan Sarandon, in Cannes with Geena Davies, questioned whether a film such as their Thelma And Louise would be made now, in fact female central characters proliferated in films by male directors. The usual suspect for his strong women characters, Pedro Almodóvar, was there with Julieta, but among others there was also Kristen Stewart in Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper, Sandra Hüller in Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, the Dardenne brothers’ The Unknown Girl with Adele Haenel, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius, starring Sonia Braga, Isabelle Huppert in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, Ruth Negga in Jeff Nichols’ Loving, Kim Minhee and Tae Ri-kim in Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden and Jaclyn Jose in Brillante Mendoza’s Ma Rosa.

There was a surprising amount of cannibalism on screen this year – in Bruno Dumont’s black comedy Ma Loute, Julia Ducournau’s horror Raw and among fashion models in Nicolas Winding Refn’s stylised parable The Neon Demon.

Audience reactions could be extreme – there were spontaneous, unexpected ovations for two memorably bizarre scenes in Toni Erdmann, shocked laughter and enthusiastic applause for rape victim Isabelle Huppert in the amoral black comedy Elle, boos (probably unmerited) at the end for supernatural Personal Shopper and (univerally considered merited) for Sean Penn’s misjudged aid-worker porn The Last Face, and walkouts and abuse shouted at the screen in Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon.

Long films made Cannes an endurance test at some screenings – some were just shy of three hours such as Sieranevada, American Honey, Toni Erdmann or well over two like Park Chan-wook’s lesbian thriller The Handmaiden, inspired by Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith. Some lengthy running times were justified, some not.

There was a resurgence of Romanian filmmaking – Cristi Puiu’s Sieranevada and Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation/Bacalaureat were both tipped for the Palme d’Or, both commenting on the current state of that nation with the feeling that things might even be worse since Ceausescu. Another Palme d’Or favourite, Toni Erdmann, was a German-Romananian co-production shot mostly in Romania, and in Un Certain Regard were the co-productions Albüm and Câini/Dogs.

There was also a sense in several films that shock events can turn progressive people to extreme violence. Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman showed a husband’s reaction to an assault on his wife, and Graduation, The Unknown Girl and Elle picked up on the trope. For real violence, late entry Peshmerga by Bernard Henri-Levy was a gripping documentary tribute to the Kurdish fighting force.

No country for old men? Well, Cannes welcomed them. The festival opened with Café Society by 80-year-old Woody Allen, and I, Daniel Blake by Ken Loach, 80 next month, both in good form, though their films couldn’t be more different – amber-hued nostalgia for Hollywood in the 1930s versus a searing indictment of the destruction wrought on individuals by Britain’s Kafka-esque social welfare system.

Red carpet moments include the close-knit cast of wild road movie American Honey dancing at the top of the steps, while the cast of the Brazilian film Aquarius followed up its political satire by showing up on the red carpet carrying placards denouncing Brazil’s new administration as the beneficiaries of a “political coup”.

But it was great to see Iggy Pop there to promote Jim Jarmusch’s documentary collage of archive footage on him – Gimme Danger in a midnight screening – less a documentary than a love letter. Its subject saw it for the first time the night before. “It really hit me,” he said. “Oh, Christ, I’m a product of those times.”

The films I’d most like to have seen? British director David Mackenzie’s Hell Or High Water, a tale of bank-robbing brothers in West Texas that’s a poetic take on a modern Western.

And was it a dog and wolf festival? Wolves cropped up as a constant threat to sheep and people in Alain Guiraudie’s Rester Vertical, which pushed the boundaries of fantasy and sexual adventure, and they finally took a suspenseful centre stage. Wolf And Sheep, the first feature by the first female Afghan director Shahrbanoo Sadat received the top award in the Directors’ Fortnight. And there was Paul Schrader’s pulp crime Dog Eat Dog with Willem Dafoe and Nicolas Cage. And the coveted Palm Dog award for the best dog performance in a film at Cannes was awarded posthumously to bulldog Nellie, playing cross-gender as Marvin in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, the critically praised tale of a poetry-writing bus driver. The Dogmanitarian award went to the three-legged dog in I, Daniel Blake.



Palme d’Or: Ken Loach for I, Daniel Blake
Grand Prix: Xavier Dolan for Juste la Fin du Monde/It’s Only the End of the World
Best Director: Cristian Mungiu for Graduation and Olivier Assayas for Personal Shopper
Best Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi for The Salesman
Best actress: Jaclyn Jose for Ma Rosa
Jury Prize: Andrea Arnold for American Honey
Best actor: Shahab Hosseini in The Salesman
Palme d’Honneur: Jean-Pierre Léaud – veteran actor appearing in the festival at The Death of Louis XIV
Best Short Film: Juanjo Gimenez – Timecode
Camera d’Or: Houda Benyamina – Divines

Fipresci (The International Federation of Film Critics)
In Competition: Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade
Un Certain Regard: Dogs (Caini) by Bogdan Miraca
Directors’ Fortnight or Critics Week: Raw by Julia Ducournau
For the Directors’ Fortnight, Raw (Grave), the cannibal film directed by Julia Ducournau, received the prize for a first film.

Ecumenical Award
It’s Only the End of the World by Xavier Dolan

Prize of Un Certain Regard
Hymyilevä Mies (The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki) by Juho Kuosmanen
Jury Prize: Fuchi Ni Tatsu (Harmonium) by Fukada Kôji
Prize for Best Director: Matt Ross for Captain Fantastic
Prize for Best Screenplay: Delphine Coulin & Muriel Coulin for Voir Du Pays (The Stopover)
Un Certain Regard Special Prize: La Tortue Rouge (The Red Turtle) by Michael Dudok de Wit

Quinzaine des Realisateurs (Directors’ Fortnight)
Art Cinema Award to a feature film: Wolf And Sheep by Shahrbanoo Sadat
SACD Award to a French-language feature film: The Together Project (L’Effet Aquatique by Solveig Anspach)
SACD special mention: Divines by Houda Benyamina
The Europa Cinemas Label to a European feature film: Mercenary (Mercenaire) by Sacha Wolff
Illy Prize to a short film: Chasse Royal by Lise Akoka, Romane Gueret
Illy special mention: The Beast (Zvir) by Miroslav Sikavica

Semaine de la Critique (Critics’ Week)
Nespresso Grand Prize: Mimosas by Oliver Laxe

France 4 Visionary Award: Albüm by Mehmet Can Mertoglu

Cine Discovery Prize for short films: Prenjak by Wregas Bhanuteja

Prix Partenaires
Gan Foundation Award for Distribution
Sophie Dulac, French Distributor
for One Week And A Day (Shavua Ve Yom) by Asaph Polonsky

SACD Award
Davy Chou and Claire Maugendre, co-writers of Diamond Island

Canal+ Award for short films
L’enfance D’un Chef by Antoine de Bary

The 2016 Queer Palm
Les Vies de Thérèse by Sebastien Lifshitz (Director’s Fortnight)
Gabber Lover by Anna Cazenave-Cambet (Cinefondation short)

The Cinéfondation Selection (student films)
First Prize: Anna by Or Sinai
The Sam Spiegel Film & TV School, Israel

Second Prize
In The Hills by Hamid Ahmadi
The London Film School, United Kingdom

Joint Third Prize
A Nyalintás Nesze by Nadja Andrasev
Moholy-Nagy University of Art And Design, Hungary

Joint Third Prize
La Culpa, Probablemente by Michael Labarca
Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela

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