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French immigration thriller bags Cannes Palme d’Or

Monday, 25 May 2015

CANNES: A French thriller spotlighting the plight of traumatised refugees building new lives, “Dheepan”, captured the Palme d’Or top prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday.

As countries around the world grapple with an influx of people fleeing global crises, a jury led by Hollywood filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen chose the gritty picture about Sri Lankan asylum-seekers by acclaimed French director Jacques Audiard among 19 international contenders.

“To receive a prize from the Coen brothers is something pretty exceptional,” Audiard said, clutching the trophy. “I’m very touched,” he said.

The harrowing Holocaust drama “Son of Saul” by Hungarian newcomer Laszlo Nemes, offering unflinching depictions of the gas chambers of Auschwitz, claimed the Grand Prize, runner-up for best picture. “This continent is still haunted by this subject,” Nemes said.

And “The Lobster”, a surreal, pitch-black comedy about modern love by Greece’s Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, bagged the third-place Jury Prize.

Best director honours went to Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-Hsien for the visually lush, slow-burn martial arts film “The Assassin”.

The nine-member panel handed the best-actress trophy to two winners: US star Rooney Mara for the lesbian love story “Carol” which also stars Cate Blanchett; and France’s Emmanuelle Bercot, in the doomed romance “Mon roi” (My King) by fellow actress-turned-filmmaker Maiwenn.

“I am thrilled to share this with another actress because it’s a bit too big for me to carry alone,” said Bercot, who had opened the 12-day festival with French social drama “Standing Tall”, which she directed and co-wrote.

In a strong night for the host country, France’s Vincent Lindon won best actor for his moving turn as a job-seeker standing up for his dignity in “The Measure of a Man”.

Mexican director Michel Franco clinched best screenplay for “Chronic “starring British actor Tim Roth as a nurse caring for dying patients.

Audiard, a Cannes favourite, specialises in films about broken people looking for fresh starts, as in critical triumphs such as “A Prophet”, “Rust and Bone” and “The Beat That My Heart Skipped”. This year’s selection divided reviewers, with a few stand-out pictures mitigated by a clutch of flops.

In “Dheepan”, novelist and former child soldier Antonythasan Jesuthasan plays an ex-Tamil Tiger fighter escaping Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war.

He and two strangers — a woman and a nine-year-old girl — pretend to be a family to make it to France on fake passports.

Once they arrive in a rough housing estate on the outskirts of Paris, the makeshift family begins to bond and Dheepan must use his battlefield experience to keep the three of them safe from drug gangs waging a turf war.

Source: AFP

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