“Titane”, a wildly imaginative film about a serial killer by French director Julia Ducournau, won the top Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival, jury head Spike Lee told the ceremony before the award was due to be revealed.
In a moment of confusion when asked in French to reveal what one of the prizes was, the U.S. film director read off a card and prematurely announced the best movie winner.
Ducournau, 37, became only the second woman to win the top award at Cannes. Her violent film, where the heroine has sex with a car, split critics, with some praising its originality but others put off by its frantic and messy approach.
Described as a “body horror” movie and based around a character with a titanium plate in her head, the film impressed with its energy.
The world’s biggest film festival returned to the French Riviera after a 2020 hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic in one of the most unpredictable contests in years.
Other big winners included Leos Carax, picked as best director for “Annette”, a musical about two artists caught in a twisted love affair.
Hamaguchi Ryusuke and Takamusa Oe of Japan won best screenplay for their tale of heartbreak and loss “Drive My Car”.
Renate Reinsve won best actress for her role in “The Worst Person In The World” by Joachim Trier, a modern day romantic comedy that was a big hit with critics.
“Compartment no6” by Juho Kuosmanen, about a woman who embarks on a train journey across Russia, tied with “A Hero” by Iran’s Asghar Farhadi, which features a prisoner faced with a moral quandary, for the Grand Prix distinction.
Caleb Landry Jones, who played the role of a mass murderer in Australian film “Nitram”, won best actor and was speechless on stage.
The Jury Prize, another runner-up award for best movie, went to two films: Nadav Lapid’s searing look into artistic freedoms in Israel in “Ahed’s Knee”, and a cryptic, medidative drama, “Memoria” by Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Italian director Marco Bellochio, 81, was given an honourary Palme d’Or.
A young Chinese director Tang Yi, 32, won the Palme d’Or for best short film with “All the Crows in the World”, while the Camera d’Or went to Croatian director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović for the film “Murina”.