After 10 days of sun, glamor, and the odd controversy, the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival has come to a close. The festival, which began in 1947 in the south of France, has since moved on from its somewhat humble origins of showcasing films from 16 different countries. In 2012, the festival hosted films and filmmakers from over 40 different countries.
Today, the Festival de Cannes is one of the biggest international film festivals in the world and some might say the most prestigious. In terms of European cinema, its closest competitors would be Venice and Berlin. For fans of art-house and European cinema, there is no comparison – Cannes consistently secures the biggest films, by the most respected filmmakers.
Though the first half of this year’s festival started off with a bang, leaving some critics with high hopes for the festival as a whole, many critics felt the last half fizzled somewhat, failing to keep pace with the initial standard it set. This year’s winners have now been announced, with 79-year-old English filmmaker Ken Loach taking the coveted Palme d’Or for his film I, Daniel Blake. You can check out the compete list of winners below:
Palme d’Or: Ken Loach – I, Daniel Blake
Grand Prix: Xavier Dolan – It’s Only The End of The World
Best Director (draw): Cristian Mungui – Graduation
Olivier Assayes - Personal Shopper
Best Actress: Jacyln Jose – Ma’ Rosa
Best Actor: Shahab Hosseini - The Salesman
Best Screenplay: Asghar Fahardi - The Salesman
Jury Prize: Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Honorary Palme d’Or: Jean-Pierre Léaud
Camera d’Or (best first feature): Houda Benyamina – Divines
Best Short: Juanjo Gimenez - Timecode
I, Daniel Blake received strong reviews after its premiere early on in the festival, prompting many to suspect that it was bound for Palme d’Or recognition. The film tells the tale of two people who meet by chance while desperately trying to navigate modern day England’s social assistance program. Known for films driven by political and social issues, Loach previously won the Palme d’Or in 2006 for his unflinching look at the early days of Ireland’s fight for independence from the English in The Wind That Shakes The Barley. While accepting this year’s prize, the director had this to say:
"The world is at a dangerous point, with 'austerity' driven by the ideals of neo-liberalism that have brought us to near-catastrophe, that have brought hardship to many in Greece in the east and Portugal and Spain in the west, and grotesque wealth to a few. There is the danger of despair that people from the far right take advantage. Some of us who are old remember what that was like. So we must say something else is possible, another world is possible and necessary."
Loach has previously hinted that I, Daniel Blake would be his final feature film and that future filmmaking endeavors would veer toward documentary. With another Palme d’Or on his mantle however, it’s entirely possible that the veteran director could reconsider his decision to leave his feature film days behind.
As usual, this year’s Cannes jury had been made up of an eclectic mix of filmmakers and performers including Kirsten Dunst, Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Paradis, Donald Sutherland, and headed by jury president George Miller. With Cannes now complete, the next major film festival to take place will be the Venice Film Festival, which kicks off at the end of August and sees filmmaker Sam Mendes heading up its international jury.