French Shocker ‘Titane’ Wins Palme d’Or

French Shocker 'Titane' Wins Palme d'Or
French director Julia Ducournau reacts on stage as she receives the Palme d’Or for her film “Titane” from US actress Sharon Stone during the closing ceremony of the 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on July 17, 2021. CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

 

 

Shock-fest “Titane” took home the top Palme d’Or prize at Cannes on Saturday, revealed early at the closing ceremony in an embarrassing slip-up by jury president Spike Lee.

French director Julie Ducournau is only the second woman to scoop the prize, for a movie that was one of the wildest, sexiest and most violent ever shown at the Cannes film festival.

It tells the story of a young woman who has sex with cars, kills without a care, and pretends to be a boy despite being pregnant by a vintage Cadillac.

Lee, the first black man to lead the jury, read out the winner at the very start of the prize section, rather than introducing the first award of the night for best actor.

After an awkward pause and regrouping, the best actor award was given to US actor Caleb Landry Jones for his chilling performance in “Nitram” about Australia’s worst mass shooting.

Making a film about the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, in which 35 people died, triggered harsh criticism of director Justin Kurzel in Australia.

But critics were won over at the Cannes premiere, with Variety calling it a “devastating study of atrocity” that shows “quiet respect for the victims’ dignity”.

It was a huge night, too, for the previously unknown Norwegian actress Renate Reinsve, who was rocketed to stardom by her role in “Worst Person in the World”.

Her role as a twenty-something searching for her identity and pinballing through relationships was a sensation and caught the 33-year-old totally unprepared.

“No one has seen me in anything,” she told AFP after the premiere. “The other day I woke up and I puked. And today I woke up and I cried.”

French Shocker 'Titane' Wins Palme d'Or
French director Julia Ducournau poses on stage with her trophy for the Palme d’Or.
Valery HACHE / AFP

Sorry for ‘messing up’

When it finally became time to announce the Palme d’Or for real, Lee said: “I apologise for messing up.”

But then he almost fluffed the presentation again by announcing the winner rather than presenter Sharon Stone, by which point Ducournau was giggling in the audience.

She still broke into tears when the official announcement was made, and told the crowd: “This evening has been perfect because it’s been imperfect.

“Thank you for letting the monsters in.”

The only other woman to win the top prize is Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993.

Other winners on the night included Leos Carax for “Annette”, the flamboyant rock opera starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, and written by eccentric Los Angeles pop duo Sparks.

The second-prize Grand Prix was shared between Iran’s two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi (“A Hero”) and Finland’s Juho Kuosmanen (“Compartment No.6”), while best screenplay went to Japan’s Hamaguchi Ryusuke and Takamasa Oe for “Drive My Car”.

The race had been wide open this year, with critics pointing to many possible successors to “Parasite”, the South Korean hit which took home the last Palme in 2019 before making history by triumphing at the Oscars.

Last year’s festival was cancelled because of the pandemic.

The jury members watched a lot of sex this year, from lesbian nuns in Paul Verhoeven’s salacious “Benedetta” to a porn star returning to small-town Texas in “Red Rocket”, which scored well with critics.

Spit tests

There were doubts early in the festival about the Covid logistics, with some festival-goers grossed out by the spit tests required every 48 hours, and criticism on social media over unmasked attendees in the cinemas at early premieres.

Restrictions were tightened, partying scaled back, and even though the stars couldn’t quite keep themselves from hugs and kisses on the red carpet, the festival appeared to pass without a major outbreak.

But there was still plenty of star power.

Tilda Swinton was ubiquitous on the red carpet, appearing in five films of the official selection.

She starred in “Memoria” by Thailand’s former Palme winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul, which shared the third-place jury prize with “Ahed’s Knee” by Israel’s Nadav Lapid.

But Swinton was clear that her proudest moment was receiving the Palm Dog award on behalf of her three spaniels, who appeared with her in “The Souvenir Part 2”.

“Honestly, this is the prize to get,” she said at Friday’s canine ceremony, as she tied the red collar prize around her neck.

AFP

Gem Thieves Rob Hollywood Star At Cannes Film Festival

Jodie Turner-Smith on “Stillwater” Red Carpet at the 74th Annual Cannes Film Festival.  PHOTO: AFP

Hollywood star Jodie Turner-Smith has fallen victim to the curse of Cannes — the jewellery thieves who regularly haunt the world’s biggest film festival.

The British-born actress wore eye-catching Gucci gold and diamond jewellery to the red carpet premiere of her latest film “After Yang” on Thursday.

The next morning her suite at the Marriott hotel in the Riviera resort was broken into while she was having breakfast with her one-year-old daughter.

Police told AFP on Monday that they were investigating a theft of jewellery from the hotel but it was unclear whether the jewellery was Gucci’s — loaned for the premiere — or the actress’s own.

READ ALSO: Kingdom Wins Nigerian Idol Season 6, Clinches N50m Worth Of Gifts

The star of “Queen & Slim” and the series “Nightflyers” and “The Last Ship” made no mention of her loss when she gave a “Women in Motion” talk at the festival Sunday.

But she tweeted later: “I didn’t think I would be spending 2.5 hours in the police station on my final day in Cannes, but here we are.”

It was the 34-year-old’s first time at the festival.

Cannes have become a notorious hunting ground for international cat burglars with a member of the infamous Pink Panthers gang suspected of taking gems worth 103 million euros ($130 million) from the Carlton hotel in 2013.

That same year a 1.6-million euro Chopard necklace was stolen at the film festival and gems worth only slightly less also went missing.

Embarrassed police were found wanting again in 2015 when only a few days before the festival began 17.5 million euros worth of jewellery was taken from the Cartier shop on the Croisette.

Luxury brands often lend their choice pieces to stars to walk the red carpet at Cannes.

Police said the jewellery taken from Turner-Smith’s room was not worth the tens of thousands of euros initially thought.

There was reportedly no sign of forced entry to her room.

The film industry bible Variety said one of the items taken was Turner-Smith’s mother’s wedding ring.

AFP

First Black Woman Enters Cannes Race With ‘Migrant Ghost’ Story

French-Senegalese actress and film director Mati Diop poses during a photocall for the film “Atlantics (Atlantique)” at the 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 17, 2019. PHOTO: Valery HACHE / AFP

 

A black woman has entered the race for Cannes’s coveted Palme d’Or top prize for the first time in its 72-year history, with a moving ghost story about migrants dying at sea while trying to reach Europe.

Mati Diop, 36, grew up in France and belongs to a Senegalese artistic dynasty including her uncle, acclaimed director Djibril Diop Mambety, and her father, musician Wasis Diop.

She told AFP after the red-carpet premiere of “Atlantics” that it was while she was making a short film in Senegal a decade ago that she began to wrestle with the tragic push-and-pull factors leading Africans to flee the continent.

READ ALSO: WhatsApp Hack: Is Mobile Ecosystem Secure Anymore?

“I was spending time in Dakar at the time and was struck by the complex and sensitive realities of the phenomenon we called at the time ‘illegal emigration’,” she said.

“Once I had finished my (short) film, I felt I still had a lot of dimensions and issues to explore. I had the desire and the idea to tell the story of youth disappearing into the sea, through the perspective of a young woman.”

She chose a Romeo and Juliet story of star-crossed young lovers, but with a supernatural twist.

The heroine of the film is Ada, growing up in a poor district of Dakar.

Although her parents have arranged her marriage to a wealthy young man, Ada has already fallen in love with Souleiman, a builder who’s been cheated out of his salary by a corrupt developer.

He and a group of fellow workers decide their only future lies in Europe and set off in a motorised boat known as a pirogue for the Atlantic.

 ‘Wait this long’

News of the boat’s sinking and the death of its passengers reaches home but Ada can’t quite believe Souleiman is gone.

Suddenly her friends start seeing him everywhere around town and Ada receives mysterious text messages on her mobile, while more and more people come down with an inexplicable fever.

Their affliction, which also leads victims’ irises to turn white, turns out to be a visitation of the souls of the dead, with Souleiman entering the body of a policeman.

The supernatural tale of love beyond death, which garnered strong reviews, drew comparisons to “Personal Shopper”, the arthouse hit starring Kristen Stewart, and even the 1990 blockbuster “Ghost”.

But the migrant crisis, in which nearly 2,300 people died trying to reach the shores of European countries last year according to the UN, adds political heft and moral urgency to the film.

Diop said that while the weight of the tragic situation was difficult to bear, she seized on the character of Ada, a young women who “wakes up to a new dimension of herself”, as a ray of light.

Asked about her own role as a trailblazer at Cannes, Diop told reporters the news had “quite honestly made me sad at first because we had to wait this long.”

Just four of the 21 directors vying for the Palme d’Or are women.

 ‘So excited’

She said she had had an “urgent need” to feel more represented on screen and see more people who look like her behind the camera, telling fresh stories.

“As a black woman I really missed black figures and black characters cruelly. And that’s also why I made this film: I needed to see black people on screen — huge, everywhere,” she laughed.

“It’s also something new. I can’t believe when I go to see a Jordan Peele movie… I can’t even believe what I’m feeling,” she said, referring to the Oscar-winning African-American filmmaker behind “Get Out” and “Us”.

“I’m so excited, I’m looking at how many black people are in the room — I almost count them… it’s a little hysterical.”

Diop said Cannes as the world’s biggest film festival had the power to help transform the industry by knocking down barriers for previously excluded groups.

“Hopefully it will be more and more common that black people are in front of characters of the same colour. Inshallah (God willing),” she said.

AFP

Real-Life Teen Drug King Inspired New Netflix Series

Real-Life Teen Drug King Inspired New Netflix Series
Actors of the TV show “How to sell drugs online (Fast)” pose during the 2019 Cannes International Series festival, in Cannes on April 6, 2019. VALERY HACHE / AFP

 

A new Netflix series billed as the teenage “Breaking Bad” is inspired by a real-life German youth who ran an online drug empire from his bedroom, its creators told AFP.

The makers of “How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” even met up with Maximilian S. on one of his days out of prison where he is serving seven years for “running the Amazon of illegal drugs” — selling everything from MDMA to marijuana.

While his mother thought of him as a “lazy and grumpy” 19-year-old who wouldn’t leave his room, he made 4.4 million euros ($4.9 million) worth of Bitcoin in little over a year from his Shiny Flakes online store.

Police still couldn’t access all of his Bitcoin accounts when he was jailed in 2015.

“When you think of the drug business, you think of the Cali cartel and Pablo Escobar,” said the series’ makers Philipp Kassbohrer and Matthias Murmann on Sunday as the series was premiered at the Canneseries festival in the French Riviera resort.

“But this young German weirdo guy who was doing this himself was having a big effect on the European drug market.

‘Best dealer in Europe’

“He was the best dealer in Europe and he didn’t just do it in the Darknet (that part of the internet hidden from public view), he did it in the clearweb,” Murmann said.

“You could find his site on a normal browser. It had customer reviews and everything: ‘If you liked this drug, you might like to try this…'”

The young man they would later know as “Max” — who was treated as a juvenile by the courts — turned up one day at their offices when the series was still being shot after he heard his story had been picked up.

“We thought he was making it up. But it was him,” said Murmann, a self-confessed geek himself.

“He had to sleep in jail but he could travel around during the day. It was interesting to get his mindset,” and to find out how proud he was of the “customer experience”.

He even showed the director “how he arranged the MDMA in boxes. ‘No, I did it like this,’ he said. It as a real headspin for the actors,” Murmann recalled.

By that point, shooting had already begun of the show, which they had turned into a buddy story of a 17-year-old high school student who sets up a drugs site with his wheelchair-bound best friend to try to win back his girlfriend, who has returned for a year out in the US as pill-popping party animal.

‘He was a bit too smart’

“It was inspired rather than based on him because when we dug into his true story we found it was very short and boring,” Kassbohrer added.

“He was a little bit too smart. He only made one big mistake and that’s why he got arrested… but when he turned up, it was a weird bridge with reality.”

The pair, whose BTF studio makes late-night TV shows and computer games, used fast editing and smartphone-style pop-ups to recreate the superconnected lifestyles of Generation Z teenagers.

Kassbohrer said “Max” was like many of this age group, trying to make their mark but in his own terribly misguided way.

“He really is a nice guy but you cannot forget that he did something very criminal and he was connected to people who were doing even bigger criminal things.

“He didn’t think it through, he was just focusing on the user experience and the technical side,” Kassbohrer added.

In fact, he was so proud of his “customer experience” that he gave an interview to “a journalist friend of ours when he was still dealing and told her that he even had a customer services and marketing department, when it was just him in his room.”

He had that “Steve Jobs thing” of not fully thinking through the consequences, Kassbohrer said, “just like Jobs hadn’t worried about people dying in China to make iPhones.”

“How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” goes online on May 31.

AFP

Cannes Film Festival Vows Parity Push For Women

 Chinese-Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh poses for selfies as she arrives on May 17, 2017 for the screening of the film ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ (Les Fantomes d’Ismael) during the opening ceremony of the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. PHOTO: LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

The Cannes film festival signed a charter Monday vowing to push for parity between men and women by 2020.

The world’s top festival also promised to be more transparent in its selection process after facing years of criticism over the lack of women directors in its main competition.

Hollywood stars including Kristen Stewart, Salma Hayek and Cate Blanchett — who heads the Cannes jury this year — led a protest of actresses, producers and women directors on the red carpet Saturday calling for equality in the industry.

Only 82 female directors have competed for the top Palme d’Or prize since 1946 compared with nearly 1,700 male directors.

And only one has won it — Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993.

This year only three out of the 21 directors in the running are women.

But Cannes director Thierry Fremaux and the heads of the parallel Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week sections promised Monday to make their selection committees transparent “to rule out any suspicion of a lack of diversity or parity” between the sexes.

They urged other international film festivals to follow suit.

AFP

‘Let’s climb!’ Female Stars Call For Equal Pay In Cannes Protest

'Let's climb!' Female Stars Call For Equal Pay In Cannes Protest
Filmmakers, actresses and producers hold hands after Australian actress and President of the Jury Cate Blanchett read a statement on the red carpet in protest of the lack of female filmmakers honoured throughout the history of the festival. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Hollywood stars including Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and Salma Hayek called Saturday for equal pay in the cinema industry and beyond in a historic red carpet protest at the Cannes film festival.

Eighty-two actresses, filmmakers and producers marched arm and arm to demand equality and “a safe workplace”, seven months after the world was shaken by the #MeToo movement and the fall of mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The ranks included a battalion of Oscar winners from Helen Mirren and Marion Cotillard to US blockbuster directors Ava DuVernay and Patty Jenkins who made “Wonder Woman”.

“We demand that our workplaces are diverse and equitable so they can best reflect the world in which we live,” said Blanchett in a statement read out with the legendary 89-year-old French director Agnes Varda.

Blanchett, a double Oscar winner, said they wanted “a world that allows all of us in front and behind the camera to thrive shoulder to shoulder with our male colleagues.”

With Cannes under fire for its dearth of women directors, the world’s top film festival hoped to fend off some of the fierce criticism with the march.

The number of protesters was highly symbolic as it represented the 82 films by female directors who have competed for the top Palme d’Or prize since 1946 — a number dwarfed by the nearly 1,700 male contenders.

The star-studded group stopped halfway up the stairs to the Palais des Festivals to mark the obstacles they face in trying to reach the top.

Women in suits

“The stairs of our industry must be accessible to all. Let’s climb,” Blanchett declared, with some of the rally’s participants visibly moved.

The Australian actress also head the female-majority jury that will decide the festival’s top prize.

Several protestors including Stewart made a strong fashion statement by donning suits and tuxedos, in a show of defiance to Cannes’ red-carpet dress code which is often denounced as sexist.

Women have been stopped from entering premieres in the past for not wearing high heels.

Producer and activist Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood hailed the event as a “massive milestone towards change”.

“An honour to share the carpet with @Ava (DuVernay) and all the other women who are pushing for more opportunities for women,” she said in a tweet after the march.

The protest took place ahead of the premiere of “Girls of the Sun” by Eva Husson, one of only three women out of 21 directors in the running for the Palme d’Or.

The film is the story of the Kurdish Yazidi all-female Sun Brigade who are fighting Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq, where thousands of women were kept as slaves.

The protest comes at the first Cannes festival since the cinema industry was engulfed by the spiralling sex abuse allegations against Weinstein.

Cannes was the scene of several of the disgraced Hollywood mogul’s alleged attacks on actresses.

In response, the festival set up an anti-harassment hotline this year.

The number has already received “several calls” since the festival’s launch on May 9, said French Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa.

Cannes “must be a safe space for women,” she stressed.

Australian actress and President of the Jury Cate Blanchett poses as she arrives on May 12, 2018 for the screening of the film "Girls of the Sun (Les Filles du Soleil)" at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. LOIC VENANCE / AFP
Australian actress and President of the Jury Cate Blanchett poses as she arrives on May 12, 2018, for the screening of the film “Girls of the Sun (Les Filles du Soleil)” at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France.
LOIC VENANCE / AFP

‘Disturbing’ depictions

Blanchett has criticised Cannes for once again failing to invite more female directors.

“There are many women on the jury but I wish there were more in competition,” the Australian-born star told French radio earlier this week.

The 48-year-old has emerged as a key figure in Hollywood’s fight against sexual misconduct.

One of the first women to call out Weinstein, Blanchett co-founded the “Time’s Up” movement to support abuse victims.

Her comments echo those of fellow actress Jessica Chastain who served on the jury last year and lambasted Cannes for its “disturbing” depiction of women.

Chastain caused a stir on Thursday when she revealed that she planned to make Hollywood’s first big-budget all-female blockbuster with a cast including Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong’o.

Only seven percent of Hollywood blockbusters were directed by women in 2016.

France has the best ratio among the major film-producing countries with 23 percent of films directed by women.

AFP