Film Festivals are typically an organized presentation of films, using a single city, region, location, etc. Also, depending on the festival’s main focus, the films presented would be related in some way, such as a genre of film, specific filmmaker and so on. The Cannes Film Festival, previously known as the International Film Festival (Festival international du film), as the name used to imply, is a film festival for everyone all over. It is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France and is part of the “Big Three” European Film Festivals, the other two being the Venice Film Festival in Italy and the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany. It is also part of the “Big Five” International Film Festivals, which includes the previously mentioned European ones plus the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada and the Sundance Film Festival in the United States.
The Palme d’Or, the Golden Palm or Palm of Gold in English, is the Cannes Film Festival’s most distinguished award and at the same time regarded as one of the most prestigious awards in the entire film industry. This extremely special award is presented by the festival’s jury. Yes, I said jury. The Cannes Film Festival involves a panel of juries that consists of highly distinguished and respected contributors to the arts and is led by a jury president. This year’s jury president was Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee, the first black jury president with his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, having produced more than 35 films since 1983.
Surely with such a renowned guest, Spike Lee, presenting such a distinguished award in such an important setting, it would be a festival night to remember, right? Well, yes actually, but not for typical reasons. In a communication error between Spike Lee and Toria Dollier, actress and host of the show, after she asked Spike to reveal the “first prize” and instead revealed the winner of the Palme d’Or at the beginning of the ceremony, rather than the end. He probably thought “first prize” meant top prize, being the Palme d’Or, not the first prize of the night which was something entirely different. It didn’t help that he got the instructions in French.
The Palme d’Or still went to its rightful winner, Titane, a French-Belgian drama written and directed by Julia Ducournau, following a woman who was impregnated by a Cadillac. No need to read that again, you read what you read. It’s a very weird concept but obviously seems to work for itself. Even Spike Lee said the same thing, adding “Titane is the first film ever where a Cadillac impregnated a woman. That blew my mind. That’s genius and craziness together. And those two things often match up.”. He also says that he made sure to apologise to everyone involved with Titane and says “I’m a big sports fan. I’m like the guy at the end of the game who misses a free throw or a kick. No apologies. The people of Titane said ‘forget about it Spike’, that means a lot to me,”.
No harm done and everyone went home happy, especially with the lightheartedness created by the mistake. Not to mention that Julia Ducournau is only the SECOND woman to win this award, the first being Jane Campion with “The Piano” in 1993. It was most definitely a memorable night for everyone viewing the festival.
By: Joshua Osifo