May 25 2015
- French film about Sri Lankan refugees wins Palme d’or
- Sri Lankans actors in debut film
- Director says film shines light on lives regarded as marginal or not important
- Jury presidents defend choice, as press largely underwhelmed
A FILM mostly in Tamil has scooped the top prize in Cannes.
French director Jacques Audiard’s “Dheepan” was presented the Palme d’Or at last night’s closing ceremony, bringing the curtain down on the 68th edition of the Cannes Film Festival (May 13-24).
The film tells the story of a Tamil soldier who flees his native Sri Lanka and heads for France at the tail end of the 20-year civil war between the Tamil minority and the Sinhala majority.
‘Dheepan’ himself is played by Jesuthasan Anthonythasan (above), making his film debut alongside fellow debutants, Kalieaswari Srinavasan as ‘Yalini’ (above left), and a small girl, Claudine Vinsthasamby as ‘Illayaal’.
Dheepan does not really know Yalini or the little girl, but reckons his chances of successfully claiming asylum in France are substantially bolstered by having the pair with him and claiming refugee status as a family.
“Dheepan” received respectable reviews when it premiered in Cannes late last week but it was hardly a favourite for the most coveted prize.
Much of the hot money seemed to flowing the way of Todd Haynes’ 1950s US lesbian drama, “Carol”, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
At a press conference after the awards, jury co-presidents Joel and Ethan Cohen told journalists they were looking as artists at other filmmakers’ works and that was different from the way critics might have viewed the films. They described “Dheepan” as a “beautiful movie”.
Audiard (pictured below), who is something of a veteran at Cannes, having had six films in competition before and notable success with “A Prophet” (A Grand Prix winner) in 2009 and “Rust and Bone” in 2012, said he had been inspired to make a story about people who were often forgotten about or just ignored.
“What interests me is the other person’s perspective, and how we view the people that sell roses in restaurants. These people come from somewhere,” he said, shortly after receiving the award.
Haynes’ “Carol” was among the winners in the actress category, with Mara picking up the award for her role in the film, but had to share it with French star, Emmanuel Bercot for her part in the French relationship drama, “Moi Roi”. Her latest film as a director, “La Tête Haute” (‘Standing Tall’) opened the festival but out of competition.
The best actor award went to the French Vincent Lindon for his role in La Loi Du Marché (‘The Measure of a Man’) by director Stéphane Brizé.
The Grand Prix award (a sort of runners-up consolation) was given to “Son of Saul”, a Holocaust drama by Hungarian, Laszlo Nemes.
Best director prize was collected by Hou Hsiao-hsien for “The Assassin”, a film from Taiwan.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster” collected the Jury prize, for his apocalyptic tale of a near-future where people are forced to find a mate in 45 days or face being turned into an animal and let off into the wild.
Mexican Michel Franco won the screenplay award for his film “Chronic”, which stars Brit Tim Roth as a Los Angeles carer haunted by his charges.
The others winners from the main competition were Cesar Augusto Acevedo, a Columbian who collected the Camera D’Or for “Land and Shade”; the Palme d’Honneur going to Agnes Varda; the ecumenical prize to the charming, reflective Nanni Moretti, “Mia Madre (‘My Mother)”, with the short films palme d’Or going to “Waves 98” by Ely Dagher.
This year the main feature film competition jury was: presidents Joel and Ethan Cohen, Rossy de Palma, Guillermo Del Torro, Xaiver Dolan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sophie Marceau, Sienna Miller, and Rokia Traoré.
In the Uncertain Regard category (for which “Masaan” collected the ‘Most Promising Future’ Award for its director, Neeraj Ghaywan).
The top award went to “Hrutar” “(‘Rams’) by Grimur Hárkanson
Jury prize – “Zvizdan” (‘The High Sun’) by Dalibor Matanić
Best director – Kiyoshi Kurosawa for “Kishibe No Tabi” (‘Journey to the Shore”)
Un Certain Talent prize – “Comoara” (‘Treasure’) by Cornelieu Porumboiu
- Tomorrow the first of our special Cannes film interviews: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan