French director Jacques Audiard's Tamil-language Dheepan won the top Palm d'Or for Dheepan at the 68th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which closed last night.
The Festival's only Tamil-language movie in this writer's 26 years at Cannes, Dheepan is haunting story of a former Tamil Tiger (part of Vellupillai Prabhakaran's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam which fought for a separate homeland for the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka). Dheepan migrates to France -- along with a woman and a child who act as his wife and daughter -- in search of peace. Which does not come that easily in the Parisian suburb -- which he makes his new home -- where drug-pedalling, gun-toting gangs make life Hell for Dheepan and his "family".
For Tamils, not just in Sri Lanka, but also in Tamil Nadu -- the two communities passionately bonded to each other through language -- Dheepan's victory in the world's most renowned Film Festival will be a matter of great pride.
And Dheepan was not the favourite among bookies or even critics. Mediamen had predicated that Todd Haynes' lesbian drama, Carol, or Hou Hsiao-hsien's historical 9th century account of intrigues in the royal court would take Cannes' most prestigious award. The bookies said that Yorgos Lanthimos's The Lobster, about human anxieties, relationships and loneliness, would clinch the Palm.Dheepan proved thrd-time-lucky for Audiard, who won the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes in 1996 with A Self-Made Hero and picked up the Grand Prix for A Prophet in 2009.
(From 2nd L) Sri Lankan actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan, French director Jacques Audiard, Sri Lankan actor Claudine Vinasithamby, Sri Lankan actor Kalieaswari Srinivasan, French actor Vincent Rottiers and French actor Marc Zinga pose as they arrive for the screening of the film Dheepan at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 21, 2015. (AFP)
Later at a Press conference, Audiard said: “I wanted to reflect on the situation that is happening in the Mediterranean. Those people who sell roses to us in a café, where they come from, what is their background, their motivations - that is what spurred me on.”
Hungarian Holocaust work, Son of Saul, by debutant helmer Laszlo Nemes, won the Grand Prix, the Festival's second highest honour. A touching tale of a Jew in Auschwitz, who finding a body that he believes is his son's, tries desperately to give the boy a decent burial.
Nemes told the Press conference: “Europe is still haunted by the deportation during the Second World War. In Hungary, 450,000 people were deported, 100,000 of those being children. And many went straight to gas chambers. It still haunts us. It is not just a piece of history. I wanted to approach this issue in a different way. It was important to talk to this generation. There are less and less survivors who can talk to us.”
The Taiwanese master, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, picked up the Best Director Palm for his film about an assassin in ninth-century China who is ordered to kill the cousin she loves.
Hou has been a Cannes Competition regular since 1993’s The Puppetmaster, although The Assassin is his first feature since Flight Of The Red Balloon, which opened A Certain Regard in 2007.
The Lobster walked away with the Jury Prize.
The Best Actor Trophy went to Vincent Lindon for his haunting portrayal of a man facing a moral crisis as a detective in a supermarket in Stephane Brize's The Measure of a Man.
The Best Actress honour was shared by Rooney Mara for Todd Haynes' Carol (opposite Cate Blanchet, who was tipped to win this Palm) and Emmanuelle Bercot for her role in Maiwenn's critically panned French drama about marital discord ,Mon Roi.
Full List of winners:
Dheepan, Jacques Audiard
Son Of Saul, Laszlo Nemes
Hou Hsiao-hsien, The Assassin
The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos
Vincent Lindon, The Measure Of A Man
Rooney Mara, Carol
Emmanuelle Bercot, Mon Roi
Chronic, Michel Franco
Land and Shade, César Augusto Acevdeo
SHORT FILM PALME D’OR
Waves 98, Ely Dagher
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Cannes Film Festival for the 26th year.)
Read: Dheepan, a riveting take on the life of former Tamil Tiger