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Cannes 2023: Woman Power!

After an eventful day in Cannes on Saturday, the film festival came to its final moment: the Palme d’Or award ceremony. The top prize was presented by Jane Fonda to Anatomy of a Fall, Justine Trier’s thriller. It is the fourth Palme d’Or winner in recent years, won by Neon Studios after Titane, Triangle of Sadness, and Parasite.

Ruben Östlund, the director of last year’s winner, Triangle of Sadness, led the jury, which included actors, directors, and filmmakers such as Julia Ducournau, Brie Larson, Rungano Nyoni, Maryam Touzani, Paul Dano, Denis Ménochet, Atiq Rahimi, and Damian Sifron. As for the ceremony itself, the presenters for the evening were Song Kang-ho, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, John C. Reilly, and Pixar creative director Pete Docter.

Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall is a thought-provoking legal drama that examines the guilt/innocence of a popular writer (Sandra Hüller) accused of murdering her husband. However, the film is also an examination of their marriage, as the details of the couple’s private life are brought into the courtroom for the press, the public and, of course, us, the viewers, to dissect at our leisure. Triet is only the third woman to win the Palme d’Or (after Jane Campion’s The Piano and Titane director Julia Ducournau, who joined Östlund on the jury this year). The award was presented by Jane Fonda, who remarked on how far Cannes has come since the American star first entered the competition – setting a record for female representation, with seven female directors in the running this year. On receiving the award, Triet spoke of the protests against the French pension reform, which has been banned from the festival.

The Grand Prix, which is the festival’s runner-up, went to The Zone of Interest. The film, directed by Jonathan Glazer and based on the novel of the same name by Martin Amis, is set in Auschwitz during World War II and follows the private life of the German commander (Christian Friedel) responsible for the execution of countless Jews. The film leaves much of the horror off screen, focusing instead on the officer and his wife (Hüller, who also stars in the Palme d’Or-winning film). Finnish festival favourite Aki Kaurismäki’s latest feature, Fallen Leaves, won the jury prize. The award was presented to the film’s actors, Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen, were presented with the award on behalf of their director, who did not attend the ceremony. The Best Director award went to Vietnamese-French film director Tran Anh Hung for The Pot-au-Feu. The drama, set at the end of the 19th century, stars Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel as a gourmet couple who live and cook in rural France. Focusing on the sensual pleasure of food, the film charmed many at the festival. The screenwriting prize went to Yuji Sakamoto for his film Monster. The drama, directed by Japanese author Hirokazu Kore-eda, focuses on a boy whose sudden behavioural problems at school have profound consequences. The film’s music was composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who died last month. The Best Actor award went to Japan’s Koji Yakusho, star of Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days. The film centres on a lonely man who cleans public toilets in Tokyo, whose quiet, routine life is then disrupted by an unexpected visit from his niece. The Best Actress award went to Merve Dizdar for her role as a teacher in Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s film Dry Weed.

The prize in the Un Certain Regard section, which also includes younger directors alongside “artistically more daring” works, went to British director Molly Manning Walker’s debut feature How to Have Sex. The first feature award went to Vietnamese-born director Thien An Pham’s Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell. The Palme d’Or for Best Short Film went to Hungarian director Flora Buda’s Anna 27.