'Titane' gets top Cannes Film Festival honor, selected by Spike Lee and festival jury

Associated Press

“Titane” has won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, making Julia Ducournau the second female filmmaker to win the festival’s top honor in its 74 year history.

The win was mistakenly announced by jury president Spike Lee at the top of the show, unleashing a few moments of confusion. Ducournau did not immediately come to the stage to accept the award, instead waiting until the formal announcement at the end of the ceremony.

At the end, the win for “Titane” was announced by Lee and presenter Sharon Stone.

After the flub, the ceremony continued and other awards were handed out while Lee was seen with his head in his hands.

The Grand Prix award was a joint honor split between the Iranian drama “A Hero” and Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen’s “Apartment No. 6.”

Director Julia Ducournau, winner of the Palme d'Or for the film 'Titane' poses for photographers during a photo call following the awards ceremony at the 74th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, July 17, 2021. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Best director was awarded to Leos Carax for “Annette,” the fantastical musical that opened the festival. The award was accepted by the musical duo Sparks, who wrote the script and music for the film.

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Nadav Lapid’s “Ahed’s Knee” won the jury prize, while Caleb Landry Jones took home the best actor prize. Renate Reinsve won best actress for Joachim Trier’s “The Worst Person in the World.”

French director Julia Ducournau (L) thanks US director and Jury President of the 74th Cannes Film Festival Spike Lee (C) next to French actor and member of the Jury of the Official Selection Tahar Rahim after she won the Palme d'Or for her film "Titane" during the closing ceremony of the 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on July 17, 2021. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Croatian coming-of-age drama “Murina,” by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, took the Camera d’Or award, a non-jury prize, for best first feature. Kusijanović was absent from the ceremony after giving birth a day earlier.

Cannes’ closing ceremony caps 12 days of red-carpet premieres, regular COVID-19 testing for many attendees and the first major film festival to be held since the pandemic began in almost its usual form. With smaller crowds and mandated mask-wearing in theaters, Cannes pushed forward with an ambitious slate of global cinema. Last year’s Cannes was completely canceled by the pandemic.

Twenty-four movies were in contention for the Palme. The jury’s deliberations are private and unknown, but that never stops a wide spectrum of predictions, guesses and betting odds. This year featured a strong slate of many top international filmmakers, but no movie was viewed as the clear favorite.

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Among the best-received films at the festival were: Ducournau’s wild, high-octane and violent serial killer film “Titane”; Asghar Farhadi’s portrait of honor and social media “A Hero”; Chadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s abortion drama “Lingui”; Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s meditative, Tilda Swinton-led “Memoria”; Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” follow-up, “Red Rocket”; Japan’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Haruki Murakami adaptation, “Drive My Car”; and Russian director Kirill Serebennikov’s influenza tale “Petrov’s Flu.”

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In 2019, the Palme went to Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” which later took best picture at the Academy Awards, too. Only one female filmmaker has ever won Cannes top award (Jane Campion for “The Piano”), so a win for Ducournau or Mia Hansen-Løve (“Berman Island”) would be history making. If Haroun were victorious, it would be the second time a film from Africa won.

Lee was the first Black jury president at Cannes. His fellow jury members are: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Song Kang-ho, Tahar Rahim, Mati Diop, Jessica Hausner, Kleber Mendonça Filho and Mylène Farmer.

Before the ceremony, Lee and the jury posed for photographers holding hands on the red carpet.