Cannes 2023: Finale

Cannes 2023: Die Palmen-Gewinner

Die Gewinner in Cannes 2023, in der Mitte Justine Triet mit der Goldenen Palme (© Maxence Parey / FDC)

Cannes is back, that was the unofficial motto of this year. With more than 14.000 participants, the film market surpassed the record numbers of the years before the Corona pandemic refuting pessimistic forecasts announcing the end of cinema confronted with the growing popularity of streaming providers. Unlike Berlin and Venice, Cannes still insists on a theatrical release and to this day refuses productions from Netflix or Amazon Studios a place in the "Sélection officielle".

Cinematically, the competition of the 77th Cannes Festival was impressive. Artistic director Thierry Frémaux and his team managed to present an exciting mix of established directors such as Wim Wenders, Kore-eda Hirokazu, Marco Bellocchio, Nanni Moretti, Todd Haynes, Aki Kaurismäki, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Ken Loach with young talents such as Justine Triet, Ramata-Toulaye Sy from France, Jessica Hausner from Austria and Kaouther Ben Hania from Tunisia.

Half a dozen films were among the favourites for the Palme d'Or. It was a convincing decision that the prize went to "Anatomie d'une chute" (Anatomy of a Fall) the fourth feature of the 44-year-old French filmmaker Justine Triet. It was immediately after the premiere that the French critics declared the film their favourite. "Anatomy of a Fall" successfully combines a cinematically ambitious narrative with an exciting form of presentation. Justine Triet moves away from the conventions of an American style courtroom drama  opening up the horizon for the story of a couple’s complex relationship. In addition, the Border Collie "Messi", who plays an important role in the film, won the so-called 'Palm Dog'.

It was generally expected that Sandra Hüller with her nuanced portrayal of the protagonist would be the winner of the prize for best actress be awarded, but that was not possible as the film had won the Golden Palm. Surprisingly, but deservedly, the prize went to the 36-year-old Turkish actress Merve Dizdar for her role of the teacher Nuray in Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "About Dry Grasses". Now that Recep Tayip Erdogan has won the presidential election in Turkey, the film portrays with great empathy the feelings of those who had hoped once again for political change.

The male protagonist, Deniz Celiloglu, would also have been a convincing candidate for the actor award. But, as expected, it went to the Japanese Koji Yakusho for his leading role in Wim Wenders' "Perfect Days", a film which also won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Unlike Berlin, Cannes is not following the fashion of awarding only an unisex actor prize.

The second major prize, the Grand Prix du Jury went to Jonathan Glazer’s "The Zone of Interest", a film which was celebrated many critics. Yet, there is something pretentious in the way Glazer shows us the private and family life of Rudolf Höss, commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The prize for best screenplay went to the author of Kore-eda’s "Monster", the Japanese Yuji Sakamoto, who teaches film at the Tokyo University of the Arts. The Vietnamese-born Trân Anh Hùng received the prize for best director for "La passion de Dodin Bouffant" (The Pot-au-feu).  The director who is living and working in France came to prominence when in 1995 he won the Golden Lion in Venice with "Cyclo".

The Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki was awarded the jury prize for "Fallen Leaves". The fairy tale about two lonely hearts in Helsinki topped the critics' ranking together with Todd Haynes' "May December" until the very end. Kaurismäki's special mix of underplayed sentimentality and a sense of dry humour has earned him cult status in arthouse circles.