The controversy Titanium, of the French Julia Ducournau, has obtained the Palme d’Or at the 74th Cannes Film Festival. The director is the second winner of the French competition after Jane Campion, for The piano in 1993, although on that occasion it was shared. Ducournau’s film has provoked great debates since its projection for its radicalism, its firmness and its defense of a love above the sexes and of female empowerment. Its protagonist, a serial killer who becomes pregnant with a car, ends up posing as a missing boy in order to hide. Titanium it can be translated by titanium (by the plate that the protagonist wears on her head) and, as its creator explains, it is also a game about myths and the titans, the Greek giants who wanted to storm the skies, like her character. In French, adding the e to the end of the word feminizes it.
The jury was chaired by Spike Lee, who messed up the ceremony when he suddenly released that the Palme d’Or was for Titanium, instead of following the natural ascending order of the awards, and it has certainly seemed like a cocktail measured in its nine components of male and female voices, and of creators from all over the world. Lee apologized for the disaster he made by busting all intrigue: “I have learned that there is always time for a second chance,” before he was about to skip the script again. Later, in the press room, he repeated that he had no “excuses” for his mistake.
Titanium skip the references of Crash, by Cronenberg, to the purest terror bordering on a visual punk that surpasses the raw images of the director’s first film, Raw (2016), to end up talking about the love between a father and a son, or at least someone whom he considers his offspring. Ducournau, a 37-year-old Parisian, ascends to the cinematographic Olympus, and with a clear voice: on stage with La Palma in hand, he defended diversity, lo queer, and the emotion of the monstrous and the different. Lee praised his “madness, his genius and how he manages to put it together.” Another of the members of the jury, the Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner, added that they never spoke about whether its author was a man or a woman: “Only after having made the decision, did we look at that.”
The grand jury prize was awarded ex aequo to A hero, of Iranian Asghar Farhadi, and for Hyutti No. 6, by the Finn Juho Kuosmanen. The jury award was also equally in order to Memory, by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Ha’berech, by Nadav Lapid. The two acting awards went to Caleb Landry Jones, for Nitram, and for Renate Reinsve, for The World’s Worst Man. The award for best director went to Leos Carax, for Annette and the best script was won by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and Oe Takamasa, for Drive My Car.
As for the official competition section, it must be recognized that the average grade is remarkable. Except for some films selected by their continent of origin (the two Africans lacked originality) and Flag Day, lto the unfortunate twist of Sean Penn to his career as a director, in the rest there were at least notes that justified his projection. And they were remarkable A hero, by Asghar Farhadi; the final 40 minutes of Memory, by Apichatpong Weerasethakul; The Olympics, by Jacques Audiard; The Unquiet, by Joachim Lafosse; The World’s Worst Man, by Joachim Trier, y Red Rocket, by Sean Baker; and very interesting Nitram, by Justin Kurzel; Three floors, by Nanni Moretti; The French Chronicle, by Wes Anderson (in his visual development); or Everything went well, scored by François Ozon. Three titles opened the channel to viewers, who were later divided into staunch defenders or radical detractors: Annette, of Leos Carax; Blessed, de Paul Verhoeven, y Titanium. And that always comes in handy to current anesthetized stalls. Above all, yes, Drive My Car, from Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Exceptional Japanese director who has adapted a short story by Haruki Murakami. Yes Asako I & II (2018) already showed signs of his mastery, in the last edition of the Berlinale, held online, his The wheel of fortune and fantasy it was the best feature film in the competition, for which it won the grand jury prize. In half a year Hamaguchi has released two masterpieces.
784 days have passed since the 2019 edition closed. Since he won Parasites, of the Korean Bong Joon-ho, his Palma and Antonio Banderas the award for best actor with Pain and glory. Later Parasites it would become the second Palma in history to also win the Oscar for best film (it had only achieved it previously Marty, by Delbert Mann). And covid-19 became a pandemic and ended the 2020 Cannes edition (only its film selection was announced), and postponed this 74th May edition, its usual date of celebration, to July. According to the organization, there have been some 28,000 accredited persons, 30% less than previous years among the press, artists and participants in the film market, although in theaters the absences seemed greater.
Fight against covid
And, above all, there has been some lack of control about the pandemic. If from the beginning all the accredited were forced to pass an antigen test every 48 hours or to carry a document that accredits the complete vaccination schedule (except in the case of Americans, who are not recognized as valid for their vaccines), there was neither the same rigidity nor the same control in the use of the mask. Only arrived the first weekend (the contest lasts 12 days), they increased the notices: Before the screenings, from Monday 12, a warning was heard that recalled the prohibition of lowering the masks during the sessions. At press conferences, after seven days of some laxity, the filmmakers finally sat down with a mask.
Every day, some 5,000 tests have been carried out, and on average there were three positives, with days of none and others of up to six. There has been no protocol for these people or monitoring of their cases and their confinement, nor has help been provided. Their contacts have not been traced either: for the first time the tickets to the sessions were obtained electronically, but they were not numbered, but only with limited areas.
In the absence of many American stars (there have not been many parties and therefore sponsors for their stays), the contest increased its master classes, conducted by Bong Joon-ho, Jodie Foster, Matt Damon, Isabelle Huppert, Marco Bellocchio and Steve McQueen . And two Palms of Gold of Honor: to Foster, who received it at the inauguration from Pedro Almodóvar, and to Marco Bellocchio, to whom Paolo Sorrentino presented it at the closing ceremony. For that reason alone, two fascinating creators moments were worth celebrating this contest.