‘I, Daniel Blake’ Takes the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival

     May 22, 2016

George Miller and his jury walked up the famous red carpet steps of the Palais des Festivals for the last time this year. The closing ceremony of the 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival promised many surprises – and disappointed as well.

Kirsten Dunst, Arnaud Desplechin, Katayoon Shahadi, Mads Mikkelsen, Laszlo Nemes, Vanessa Paradis, Valeria Golino and Donald Sutherland had heated debates about the winners, according to president of the jury George Miller. The process was allegedly “exhausting.”

We understood why as the winners were announced, but they ultimately made a few wise decisions.

The press room let out a loud cheer for the first time since the beginning of the ceremony as I, Daniel Blake was announced as the winner of this year’s Palme d’Or (click here for my review).


Image via Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach, who had previously won the coveted award for 2006’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley, used his acceptance speech to complain about the austerity policies across Europe.

Mel Gibson, who presented the top award alongside George Miller, told of how 40 years ago an ex-med school student-turned-filmmaker had given a young actor a chance and transformed his life through a movie called Mad Max, and that he hoped this year Cannes would transform other lives as well.

Asghar Farhadi‘s The Salesman was also a favorite as Shahab Hosseini won the best actor award, which he dedicated to his people in Iran. (As a side note, he was also brilliant in Farhadi’s About Elly, starring alongside Paterson‘s Golshifteh Farahani.) As for Farhadi, he was awarded Best Screenplay. And it’s a rare feat for a movie to win two awards at Cannes.

“I don’t know what to say, I’m just so surprised.” On the verge of tears, Jaclyn Jose thanked her director Brillante Mendoza, also in tears, as she picked up her award for best performance as an actress in Ma’Rosa.

For the Best Director award, it was a tie. Winner of the Palme d’Or in 2007 for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu shared his award for Graduation (one of the best films of the rather disappointing selection) with Olivier Assayas who directed Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper. In fact, there was laughter in the press room as Assayas’s name was announced.


Image via Cannes Film Festival

Vanessa Paradis and Kirsten Dunst presented the Jury Prize to American Honey, Andrea Arnold‘s cliché-filled three-hour road trip, followed by Arnaud Desplechin who awarded the Palme d’Honneur – the Honorary Palme – to French actor Jean-Pierre Léaud to celebrate his long career. Léaud first came to the festival as a young actor aged only 14, accompanied by none other than Jean Cocteau, and has since appeared in films by Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Paolo Pasolini and Bernardo Bertolucci. This year, he played the lead in the off-competition The Death of Louis IVX.

And the most annoying award goes to… Xavier Dolan. Even though It’s Only the End of the World was received with very mixed reviews, it won Grand Prize. Dolan went on with a very lengthy, affected speech where he poured his heart out. He needed a hug; he got an award instead.

Palme d’Or: I, Daniel Blake by Ken Loach
Grand Prize: It’s Only the End of the World by Xavier Dolan
Best Direction: Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper) & Cristian Mungiu (Graduation)
Best Screenplay: The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi
Best Actress: Jaclyn Jose in Ma’Rosa by Brillante Mendoza
Jury Prize: American Honey by Andrea Arnold
Best Actor: Shahab Hosseini in The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi
Honorary Palme: Jean-Pierre Léaud
Caméra d’Or: Divines by Houda Benyamina
Palme d’Or Short Film: Timecode By Juanjo Gimenez
Short Film Special Distinction: The Girl Who Danced With The Devil by João Paolo Miranda Maria

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