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French drama earns top honor at Cannes

by JAKE COYLE The Associated Press | May 28, 2023 at 3:30 a.m.
Justine Triet, right, accepts the Palme d'Or for 'Anatomy of a Fall,' which was presented by Jane Fonda, left, during the awards ceremony of the 76th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 27, 2023 (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Justine Triet's "Anatomy of a Fall" won the Palme d'Or at the 76th Cannes Film Festival in a ceremony Saturday that bestowed the festival's prestigious top prize on a French courtroom drama that puts a marriage on trial.

"Anatomy of a Fall," which stars Sandra Huller as a writer trying to prove her innocence in her husband's death, is only the third film directed by a woman to win the Palme d'Or. One of the two previous winners, Julia Ducournau, was on this year's jury.

Cannes' Grand Prix, its second prize, went to Jonathan Glazer's "The Zone of Interest," a Martin Amis adaptation about a German family living next door to Auschwitz. Huller also stars in that film.

The awards were decided by a jury presided over by two-time Palme winner Ruben Ostlund, the Swedish director who won the prize last year for "Triangle of Sadness." The ceremony preceded the festival's closing night film, the Pixar animation "Elemental."

The award for "Anatomy of a Fall" gives the indie distributor Neon its fourth straight Palme winner. Neon, which acquired the film after its premiere in Cannes, also backed Bong Joon Ho's "Parasite," which it steered to a best picture win at the Academy Awards.

Triet was presented the Palme by Jane Fonda. This year, a record seven out of the 21 films in competition at Cannes were directed by women.

After a rousing standing ovation, Triet, the 44-year-old French filmmaker, spoke passionately about the protests that have roiled France this year over reforms to pension plans and the retirement age. Several protests were held during Cannes this year, but demonstrations were banned from the area around the Palais des Festivals.

"The protests were denied and repressed in a shocking way," said Triet.

"This award is dedicated to all the young women directors and all the young male directors and all those who cannot manage to shoot films today," she added. "We must give them the space I occupied 15 years ago in a less hostile world where it was still possible to make mistakes and start again."

After the ceremony, Triet reflected on being the third female director to win the Palme, following Ducournau and Jane Campion.

"Anatomy of a Fall" did pocket one other sought-after prize: the Palme Dog. The honor given to the best canine in the festival's films went to the film's border collie, Snoop.

The jury prize went to Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's "Fallen Leaves," a love story about a romance that blooms in a loveless Helsinki, where dispatches from the war in Ukraine regularly play on the radio.

Best actor went to veteran Japanese star Koji Yakusho, who plays a middle-aged Tokyo man who cleans toilets in Wim Wenders' "Perfect Days."

Turkish actor Merve Dizdar took best actress for the Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "About Dry Grasses."

"I would like to dedicate this prize to all the women who are fighting to exist and overcome difficulties in this world and to retrain hope," said Dizdar.

Vietnamese-French director Tran Anh Hung took best director for "Pot-au-Feu," a foodie love story starring Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel and set in a 19th century French gourmet château.

Best screenplay was won by Yuji Sakamoto for "Monster." The film also won the Queer Palm, an honor bestowed by journalists for the festival's strongest LGBTQ-themed film.

Quentin Tarantino presented a tribute to filmmaker Roger Corman. Tarantino praised Corman for filling him and countless moviegoers with "unadulterated cinema pleasure."

"My cinema is uninhibited, full of excess and fun," said Corman, the independent film maverick. "I feel like this [is] what Cannes is about."

The festival's Un Certain Regard section handed out its awards Friday, giving the top prize to Molly Manning Walker's debut feature, "How to Have Sex."

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