- Cannes Film Festival winners: The Belgian family/social drama The Child has earned Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne their second Palme d’Or. Michael Haneke was the Best Director for the political/psychological thriller Caché.
- The second and third prizes went to, respectively, Jim Jarmusch’s comedy-drama Broken Flowers and Wang Xiaoshuai’s Shanghai Dreams.
- Tommy Lee Jones was named Best Actor for his directorial debut, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, while Hana Laslo was the Best Actress pick for Amos Gitai’s Free Zone.
Cannes Film Festival: Baby black market drama The Child earns Dardenne brothers their second Palme d’Or
This year’s Cannes Film Festival has earned Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne their second Palme d’Or. At the festival’s May 21 awards ceremony hosted by another Belgian, Cécile de France, the Dardennes’ family/social drama The Child / L’enfant was named Cannes’ top entry.
Starring Jérémie Renier, The Child tells the story of a petty crook who sees his newborn child as a good way to make a quick buck. Why not sell the baby in the black market, for, as he explains to the baby’s mother (Déborah François), they can always make a new one. When things don’t quite go according to plan, he is forced to rethink his long-term goals.
The Dardenne brothers had previously taken home the Palme d’Or back at the 1999 Cannes Festival, when their teen-focused social drama Rosetta topped the Official Competition.
Cannes’ double winners
Since 1949, when the Cannes Film Festival’s Official Competition jury began selecting one (at times two) top film(s), there have been only four other double Palme d’Or winners:
- Francis Ford Coppola for The Conversation (1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979; tied with Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum).
- Bille August for Pelle the Conqueror (1988) and The Best Intentions (1992).
- Emir Kusturica for When Father Was Away on Business (1985) and Underground (1995).
- Shohei Imamura for The Ballad of Narayama (1983) and The Eel (1997; tied with Abbas Kiarostami’s A Taste of Cherry).
Palme d’Or ‘favorites’ Caché & Battle in Heaven
The Dardenne brothers’ victory was – at least – somewhat of a surprise, as the Palme d’Or buzz had mostly centered on Michael Haneke’s Paris-set psychological/political thriller Hidden / Caché, in which Daniel Auteuil is the embodiment of the (in their view) besieged post-colonial European bourgeoisie. Juliette Binoche plays his wife; veteran Annie Girardot (Rocco and His Brothers, The Organizer) his mother.
Another top Official Competition contender had been Carlos Reygadas’ Battle in Heaven / Batalla en el cielo. Some critics were impressed, with the Parisian daily Le Monde, for one, calling Reygadas’ sexually explicit psychological drama “a magnificent film about the mystical erotic pleasure of lost souls in the megalopolis of Mexico City.”
Although Caché failed to win the Palme d’Or, Michael Haneke didn’t come out empty-handed, being named the Official Competition’s Best Director.
That marked the (Munich-born) Austrian filmmaker’s second major Cannes win this century. Four years ago, his psychological drama The Piano Teacher / La pianiste, starring Isabelle Huppert in the title role and Annie Girardot as her abusive mother, was the Grand Prix winner.
As for Carlos Reygadas, hopefully he had a good Cannes guidebook, as Battle in Heaven failed to win a single award. Three years ago, Reygadas’ first feature, Japón, received a Caméra d’Or Special Mention as the runner-up in that sidebar.
Grand Prix winner Broken Flowers
The Cannes Film Festival’s secondary (and misnamed) Grand Prix was awarded to Jim Jarmusch’s U.S. comedy-drama Broken Flowers, the tale of a perennial bachelor who sets out to meet a young man who may be his son.
Curiously, star Bill Murray faced a similar challenge in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – was Owen Wilson really his son? – released last year in the United States and screened at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.
Of note, Broken Flowers’ basic narrative of a man meeting the various women in his life – once you reverse genders and remove the mystery son – is akin to what’s seen in Julien Duvivier’s Un carnet de bal (1937) and its Duvivier-directed Hollywood remake, Lydia (1941), in which Marie Bell and Merle Oberon, respectively, become reacquainted with the men in their lives.
Besides Murray, the Broken Flowers cast includes two-time Academy Award winner Jessica Lange (Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie, 1982; Best Actress for Blue Sky, 1994), Best Supporting Actress nominee Chloë Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry, 1999), Tilda Swinton, Julie Delpy, Best Actress nominee Sharon Stone (Casino, 1995), Mark Webber, Jeffrey Wright, and Frances Conroy.
More Cannes Film Festival winners: Tommy Lee Jones & Hana Laslo
The Cannes Film Festival’s Jury Prize (the third prize) went to Wang Xiaoshuai’s Shanghai Dreams, a love story set among workers relocated to a remote part of China during the 1960s. Gao Yuanyuan and Li Bin star.
Tommy Lee Jones (Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner for The Fugitive, 1993) was chosen Best Actor for his portrayal of a Texas rancher attempting to uncover the truth behind the killing of his titular best friend, an undocumented Mexican worker (Julio Cedillo), in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada – which happens to be Jones’ directorial debut.
The modern-day crime Western also earned Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, 21 Grams) the Best Screenplay award.
Hana Laslo (also spelled “Laszlo”) was named Best Actress for her work in Amos Gitai’s Israeli road movie Free Zone, in which she plays a cabdriver headed to the titular area near the Jordanian border, where she intends to collect money owed to her black-market-trading husband. Natalie Portman (Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for Closer, 2004) and Hiam Abbass are her two passengers.
Caméra d’Or tie
The Caméra d’Or for Best Film was shared by American Miranda July for the romantic comedy-drama Me and You and Everyone We Know and Sri Lanka’s Vimukthi Jayasundara for the political/psychological drama The Forsaken Land.
And speaking of politics and movies at this year’s Cannes Festival, two-time Best Director Oscar nominee George Lucas (American Graffitti, 1974; Star Wars, 1977) talked about the apparent Iraq War parallels seen in his latest Star Wars prequel, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, which was screened out of competition.
The blockbuster-to-be stars Hayden Christensen as Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill in the original trilogy), Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness in the original trilogy), and Free Zone’s Natalie Portman as the new character Padmé Amidala.
Below are this year’s Palme d’Or competition films (and their directors) not mentioned in the text above, in addition to a partial list of Out of Competition and Un Certain Regard entries.
Cannes Film Festival movies
Palme d’Or Competition
- David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence.
- Atom Egoyan’s Where the Truth Lies.
- Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Best of Our Times.
- Masahiro Kobayashi’s Bashing.
- Arnaud and Jean-Marie Larrieu’s To Paint or Make Love / Peindre ou faire l’amour.
- Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City.
- Dominik Moll’s opening night gala presentation Lemming.
- Hiner Saleem’s Kilometre Zero.
- Johnnie To’s Election.
- Marco Tullio Giordana’s Once You’re Born You Can No Longer Hide / Quando sei nato non puoi più nasconderti.
- Gus Van Sant’s Last Days.
- Lars von Trier’s Manderlay.
- Wim Wenders’s Don’t Come Knocking.
Out of Competition
- Woody Allen’s Match Point.
- Christian Carion’s Merry Christmas / Joyeux Noël.
- Fatih Akin’s Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul.
- Michel Piccoli’s C’est pas tout à fait la vie dont j’avais rêvé.
- Seijun Suzuki’s Princess Raccoon.
Un Certain Regard
- Alain Cavalier’s Le Filmeur.
- Sergio Machado’s Lower City / Cidade Baixa.
- James Marsh’s The King.
- François Ozon’s Time to Leave / Le Temps qui reste.
- Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu / Moartea Domnului Lazarescu.
- Juan Solanas’ Northeast / Nordeste.
“Cannes Film Festival: Belgian Brothers” endnotes
Cannes Film Festival website.
Jérémie Renier The Child image: Les Films du Fleuve.
Natalie Portman, Hiam Abbass, and Hana Laslo Free Zone image: Bac Films.
“Cannes Film Festival: Belgian Brothers Receive Palme d’Or #2” last updated in September 2021.