Spike Lee Reveals That ‘Titane’ Has Won the Cannes Palme d’Or at Beginning of Awards Ceremony

Spike Lee Reveals That ‘Titane’ Has Won the Cannes Palme d’Or at Beginning of Awards Ceremony

The Wrap


Spike Lee, the president of the jury at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, accidentally announced that Julia Ducournau’s “Titane” has won the Palme d’Or in what were supposed to be his opening remarks at the awards ceremony. The revelation rocked the crowd inside the Grand Theatre Lumiere, and set social media abuzz at the beginning of a ceremony that traditionally ends with the crowning of the Palme winner.

His slip-up came when the ceremony’s host, French actress Audrey Tatou, asked Lee, “Can you tell me which prize is the first prize?” Lee got to his feet, and instead of telling her that the best actor award would be the first one handed out, said, “Yes, I can. The film that won the Palme d’Or is ‘Titane.'” Fellow juror Melanie Laurent reached for Lee and shouted, “No!” while other jurors laughed or buried their faces in their hands.

The win for a film far more daring, violent and sexual than the usual Palme d’Or winner is the second consecutive victory for a film distributed by Neon, which also had 2019 Cannes (and Oscar) winner “Parasite.”

It also makes Ducournau only the second female director to win the Palme d’Or, after Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993. (Actresses Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos were specifically named in the Palme citation for “Blue Is the Warmest Color” in 2013, but that film was directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.)

Asghar Farhadi’s tense moral drama “A Hero” and Juno Kuosmanen’s slow-paced “Compartment No. 6” shared the Grand Prize, which goes to the second-place film.

Caleb Landry Jones was named winner of the best actor award for his performance as a real-life mass shooter in Justin Kurzel’s “Nitram.” Renate Reinsve won the best actress prize for Joachim Trier’s “The Worst Person in the World.”

Two films shared the Jury Prize, which is essentially Cannes’ third-place award: “Memoria,” a dreamy film starring Tilda Swinton and directed by former Palme winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and “Ahed’s Knee,” from Israeli director Nadav Lapid.

The best director prize went to Leos Carax for the opening-night film, “Annette,” a musical starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard with songs by the band Sparks. The screenplay award went to writer-director Ryusuke Hamaguchi for his Haruki Murakami adaptation “Drive My Car.”

The Camera d’Or, which goes to the best first film in any section or sidebar of the festival, was given to Croatian director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s “Murina,” which screened in the independent Directors Fortnight sidebar.

This year’s Main Competition section included 24 films, the largest number of films that has competed for the Palme d’Or since 1974, when 26 did. They included Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” Paul Verhoeven’s “Benedetta,” Sean Baker’s “Red Rocket” and Sean Penn’s “Flag Day.”

Three of the directors in competition — Weerasethakul, Jacques Audiard with “Paris, 13^th District” and Nanni Moretti with “Three Floors” – are previous Palme d’Or winners.

Apart from Lee and Laurent, the jurors on the five-women, four-men panel were directors Mati Diop, Jessica Hausner and Kleber Mendonca Filho, actors Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tahar Rahim and Song Kang Ho and singer Mylene Farmer.

The Cannes Film Festival did not take place last year, so no awards were handed out. In 2019, the Palme d’Or went to Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” which became only the second movie ever to win the Palme and then go on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The first was “Marty,” in 1955. (At the first Cannes, in 1946, the top award was called the Grand Prix, and 11 different films tied for the honor; one was “The Lost Weekend,” which also won the Oscar.)   

*The winners*:

*Palme d’Or*: “Titane,” Julia Ducournau
*Grand Prix*: “A Hero,” Asghar Farhadi and “Compartment No. 6,” Juho Kuosmanen
*Best Director*: Leos Carax, “Annette”
*Best Screenplay*: “Drive My Car,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi
*Best Actor*: Caleb Landry Jones, “Nitram”
*Best Actress*: Renate Reinsve
*Jury Prize*: “Memoria,” Apichatpong Weerasethakul; and “Ahed’s Knee,” Nadav Lapid
*Camera d’Or*: “Murina,” Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
*Palme d’Or, Short Film:* “All the Crows in the World” (“Tian Xai Wu Ya”), Tang Yi
*Special Mention*: “Ceu de Agosto,” Jasmin Tenucci

*Honorary Award*: Marco Bellocchio

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