Thursday, June 20, 2024

Cannes top price for ‘Arora’

“Anora,” an explicit and often humorous tale about a New York erotic dancer, clinched the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, marking a historic win for a trans actress.

Director Sean Baker solidified his position as a prominent figure in American indie cinema with this accolade, which also propels 25-year-old Mikey Madison into the spotlight.

In the film, Madison portrays a dancer who hits jackpot with a wealthy client, only to encounter the ire of his Russian oligarch parents.

As head of the jury, “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig lauded “Anora” as an “extraordinary, compassionate film that deeply resonated with us.”

Baker, known for his acclaimed works like “The Florida Project” and “Red Rocket,” expressed, “This has been my singular ambition for the past 30 years, so I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with the rest of my life.” He dedicated the award to all sex workers and urged filmmakers to “sustain cinema.”

“This entails creating films meant for theatrical release,” the 53-year-old emphasized.

“The world needs to remember that watching a film at home while scrolling through your phone, checking emails, and only half paying attention is simply not the way to experience cinema, despite what some tech companies may suggest.”

The 77th edition of the festival on the French Riviera showcased several highly charged feminist and political films, alongside plenty of gore and sexuality.

A trans woman made history by winning the best actress award for the first time. Karla Sofia Gascon received the accolade for her role in the bold musical “Emilia Perez,” where she portrays a Mexican narco boss who transitions into a woman. The jury decided to share the award among Gascon and her co-stars Zoe Saldana, Selena Gomez, and Adriana Paz, citing the “harmony of sisterhood,” although only Gascon attended the ceremony.

Gascon dedicated the award to “all the trans people who are suffering.”

“We all have the opportunity to change for the better, to be better people,” she said.

“If you have made us suffer, it is time for you also to change.”

There were fewer meaty roles for men this year. Jesse Plemons took the prize for Yorgos Lanthimos’s bizarro series of short stories, “Kinds of Kindness”, though he was not present to accept it.

“The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” a poignant Iranian film depicting a family torn apart by the country’s recent women-led protests, was awarded a special jury prize for “highlighting unsustainable injustice.”

Director Mohammad Rasoulof, aged 51, fled Iran to evade a lengthy prison sentence shortly before the festival.

Expressing solidarity, Rasoulof stated that his thoughts were with the film’s crew, who are still under pressure from the Iranian secret services. He added, “I am also very saddened, deeply saddened, to witness the daily tragedy experienced by my people… the Iranian people endure life under a totalitarian regime.”

The second-place Grand Prix was awarded to “All We Imagine as Light,” marking the first Indian entry in 30 years.

Critics were captivated by its poetic depiction of two women who migrated to Mumbai to work as nurses amidst the monsoon.

Additionally, “Emilia Perez” secured the third-place Jury Prize for its French director, Jacques Audiard.

Portugal’s Miguel Gomes clinched the Best Director award for “Grand Tour,” a film exploring a man’s decision to leave his fiancée and embark on a journey across Asia.

“The Substance,” featuring Demi Moore, secured the Best Screenplay accolade. It delves into the intense societal pressures on women to maintain physical perfection as they age.

“What an incredible gift it has been to work with you,” writer and director Coralie Fargeat told Moore from the stage.

The film is “about women and what women can still experience in the world. We need a revolution, and I don’t think it has really started yet”, she said.

“Star Wars” creator George Lucas received an honorary Palme d’Or from his old friend Francis Ford Coppola, who competed this year with the highly divisive “Megalopolis”.

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