The Palme d'Or goes to Shoplifters

Hirokazu Kore-eda with his Palme d'Or, standing in front of jury chair Cate Blanchett

CANNES 2018: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s film has scooped the top prize, while other names on the winners’ list include Europeans Alice Rohrwacher, Marcello Fonte, Pawel Pawlikowski and Jean-Luc Godard.

In the end, it was a blend of emotion and finesse that won over the jury chaired by Cate Blanchett, as the Palme d'Or at the 71st Cannes Film Festival was handed to the understated Shoplifters by Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda. The filmmaker, who was taking part in the competition for the fifth time, had been awarded on two separate occasions (the Jury Prize in 2013 and via a Best Actor Award in 2004), and with this win, he brings a fifth Palme d’Or back to his home country.

European cinema had a heavy presence on the winners’ list at the 2018 edition of the gathering. Intriguingly, a Special Palme d’Or popped up on the awards list for the very first time, singling out the incredible The Image Book [+] by Switzerland’s Jean-Luc Godard (now 87 years of age.

The Best Director Award was quite rightly bestowed upon Poland’s Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War [+], a movie staged by Poland (Opus Film), the UK (Apocalypso Pictures) and France (mk2, which also manages the international sales). Pawlikowski has been wawrded with the LUX FILM PRIZE in 2014, just few moinths before an Oscar as best foreing language film.

Meanwhile, Italian cinema was rewarded twofold. The Best Actor Award served to highlight the magnificent work of the Buster Keaton-like Marcello Fonte in Matteo Garrone’s Dogman [+], a film produced by Archimede together with France’s Le Pacte, and sold by Rai. The Best Screenplay Award was split between two titles – Alice Rohrwacher did European cinema proud, as she won said trophy for Happy as Lazzaro [+]. Having previously won the Grand Prix in 2014 (with The Wonders [+] LUX FILM PRIZE Official Selection), the 36-year-old filmmaker thus continues her rise to the top, as this is only her third feature film.

European film production was also singled out via the Best Actress Award, which crowned Kazakhstan’s Samal Yeslyamova for her very physical performance in Ayka [+] by her fellow countryman Sergey Dvortsevoy, which was produced by Russia, Germany (Pallas Film), Poland (Otter Film), France (KNM), Kazakhstan and China. Also of note is the Jury Prize picked up by Capharnaüm [+] by Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, a feature staged by Lebanon, with France’s Anne-Dominique Toussaint (Les Films des Tournelles) on board as associate producer. Wild Bunch is taking care of its international sales.

This award ceremony thus drops the curtain on a 2018 competition that proved to be of a very high quality (with a programme that cleverly built up to a crescendo), and which was at odds with the predictions of the doomsayers alarmed by the absence of a clutch of Croisette regulars. The gamble that Thierry Frémaux took on new blood clearly paid off, as we saw the emergence of some very different filmmakers and styles, and a new world order in arthouse cinema, with Europe remaining a solid player,

Asia gaining momentum and the breakthrough of the Middle East (in particular with the ex-aequo Best Screenplay Award for Iran’s Jafar Panahi for Three Faces), plus an excellent performance by North America, with the prestigious Grand Prix picked up by the USA’s Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman.

In the meantime, the future seems to be embodied by Belgian director Lukas Dhont, who went home with the Caméra d'Or (which singles out the best debut feature across all of the sections) for Girl [+] (presented in Un Certain Regard), a film that has already been honoured with a FIPRESCI Prize and the Best Performance Award on the winners’ list of Un Certain Regard. Produced by Belgian outfit Menuet, and co-produced by Frakas Productions and the Netherlands’ Topkapi, Girl is being sold overseas by The Match Factory.

Here is the complete list of winners:

Palme d'Or
Shoplifters - Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japan)

Special Palme d'Or
The Image Book [+] - Jean-Luc Godard (Switzerland/France)

Grand Prix
BlacKkKlansman - Spike Lee (USA)

Best Director
Pawel Pawlikowski - Cold War [+] (Poland/UK/France)

Best Actress
Samal Yeslyamova - Ayka [+] (Russia/Germany/Poland/Kazakhstan/China)

Best Actor
Marcello Fonte - Dogman [+] (Italy/France)

Best Screenplay (ex-aequo)
Alice Rohrwacher - Happy as Lazzaro [+] (Italy/Switzerland/France/Germany)
Jafar Panahi - Three Faces (Iran)

Jury Prize
Capharnaüm [+] - Nadine Labaki (Lebanon/France)

Caméra d'Or
Girl [+] - Lukas Dhont (Belgium/Netherlands)

Palme d'Or for Best Short Film
All These Creatures - Charles Williams (Australia)
Special Mention
On the Border - Wei Shujun (China)