Swedish director Ruben Östlund has won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with his more than 2.5 hours of savage satire Triangle of Sadness. It is the second time that he has been awarded the main prize of the festival. In 2017 he also won the Golden Palm for his satire on the art world The Square.
Triangle of Sadness brought life to the brewery in Cannes and was received with loud applause and cheers. The critics were divided. Östlund ridicules the world of influencers and new rich. The film is successively set in the fashion world, on a luxury yacht and on a desert island.
Woody Harrelson plays the Marxist-angehaucht captain of the yacht. If the ship suffers damage, social relations completely change. Östlund’s not very gentle film culminates, among other things, in a baroque scene in which all those on board the yacht endure a storm while puking.
David Cronenberg makes his comeback in Cannes
The ‘Grand Prix’ (second prize) went ex aequo to two films. The young Belgian director Lukas Dhont received the prize for Close, his intimate drama about the deep friendship of two thirteen-year-old boys who are struck by a tragedy. French veteran Claire Denis surprisingly received the prize for the poorly received Stars at Noon: an erotic thriller set against the background of political unrest in Nicaragua.
The Prix du Jury (third prize) also went to two films at the same time: firstly, the Italian spoken book adaptation Le otto montagne by the Belgian directorial duo Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch. Vital 84-year-old Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski was awarded the Prix du Jury for the experimental EO. In the film he shows the world through the eyes of a donkey.
The prize for best direction went to Korean Park Chan-wook, who delivered one of the most beautifully stylized films in Cannes with his Decision to Leave – half police thriller, half melodrama. In the film, police detective Hae-jun falls under the spell of widow Seo-rae, who is a suspect in a murder case.
Best Actor in Cannes was Korean actor Song Kang-ho, who gained international fame for his lead role in Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019). In the wonderfully beautiful Broker by the Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, he plays a wimpy criminal who trades in abandoned babies.
The best actress award went to Iran’s Zahra Amir Ebrahimi for her role in Iranian-Danish director Ali Abbasi’s Holy Spider. She plays journalist Rahimi, who searches for a serial killer who assaults prostitutes in the holy city of Mashhad in Iran. The actress was previously discredited in Iran and now lives in exile. She gave a tearful thanks in Cannes, in which she referred to that dark period in her life. Holy Spider deals with controversial themes such as prostitution and abuses by the police and the judiciary, which are taboo for filmmakers in Iran.
Cannes inside and outside the bubble
Something similar applies to Boy from Heaven by the Swedish-Egyptian filmmaker Tarik Saleh, winner of the prize for the best screenplay. His film is about political machinations and intrigue when a new grand imman has to be chosen for the prestigious al-Azhar University in Cairo.
Because Saleh broaches sensitive themes with his film, he is no longer welcome in Egypt. “People sometimes ask me if the film is worth it,” he said in his acceptance speech. “Obviously the movie isn’t worth it. Egypt is the country I love the most. Yet I had to do this.” Saleh dedicated the award to young filmmakers in Egypt, hoping they will “find the courage to tell their own stories.”
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