Magazine article Screen International

Cannes Palme d'Or Goes to Kechiche's Blue

Magazine article Screen International

Cannes Palme d'Or Goes to Kechiche's Blue

Article excerpt

UPDATE: Kechiche shares top prize with lead actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in emotional closing ceremony.Scroll down for full list of winners

Franco-Tunisian filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche's steamy portrait of youthful, lesbian love Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie d'Adèle - Chapitre 1 & 2) clinched the Cannes Palme d'Or on Sunday evening.

While Blue was deemed a front-runner for the top prize, surprise shutouts from the awards list included Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra and Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty, which had been tipped for Cannes prizes.

Breaking with festival protocol, the Steven Spielberg-presided jury attributed the Palme d'Or to Kechiche as well as his youthful leading ladies Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux.

"The jury has taken the exceptional step of recognising the achievements of three artists in its presentation of the Palme D'Or. They are Adèle, Léa and Abdellatif Kechiche," said Spielberg as he made the announcement.

REVIEW: Blue is the Warmest Colour

The emotional trio took to the stage amid a two-minute standing ovation - Exarchopoulos and Seydoux intermittently sobbing and laughing with joy.

Having thanked Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux for inviting him to Cannes, Kechiche also paid tribute to Wild Bunch co-chiefs Brahim Chioua and Vincent Maraval. Wild Bunch produced the picture, alongside Alcatraz Films and Quat'Sous Films, and also sold the film internationally.

"The whole team at Wild Bunch are just amazing - precisely because they are real team," said Kechiche.

He also recalled the late producer Claude Berri, who produced and financed his 2007 film The Secret of the Grain, describing him as "a man who carried me, supported me and helped me make my way and whom I miss to this day." He also thanked his long-time collaborator Ghalya Lacroix, who co-wrote the script.

In a nod to his split Franco-Tunisian identity, Kechiche paid tribute to the "wonderful French youth" he had encountered in the making of Blue, praising their spirit of freedom and openness, and then dedicated the prize to the young Tunisians who had participated in his native country's 2011 revolution.

"It was an extraordinary act on their part and my hope is that they too can one day live freely, express themselves freely and love freely," continued Kechiche.

Premiering in the second half of the festival, Blue is the Warmest Colour was an immediate hit with the critics, topping the Screen Jury Grid within 24 hours of its premiere.

Some in the press questioned, however, whether its steamy love-making scenes made it too hot for a Palme d'Or win.

In another twist, the French press reported back in April that the film would not be presented for Official Selection because it was not ready.

Wild Bunch has been doing a roaring trade on the picture throughout the festival selling it to Sundance Selects for the US as well as to the Benelux (Cineart), Brazil (Imovision) and Italy (Lucky Red) among others.

In other prizes, Ethan and Joel Coen scooped the Grand Prix for their much-lauded Inside Llewyn Davies set against the backdrop of New York's nascent folk scene in the 1960s.

The brothers were already back in the US and unable to return to Cannes in time for the ceremony, said lead actor Oscar Isaac, who accepted the prize on their behalf.

The brothers won the Palme d'Or in 1991 with Barton Fink followed by Best Director for Fargo in 1996 and The Man Who Wasn't There in 2001.

REVIEW: Inside Llewyn Davies

Somewhat surprisingly, Best Director went to Mexican Amat Escalante for his timely and violent picture Heli set against the backdrop of a Mexican industrial town in the grip of a powerful drugs cartel. …

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