The announcement ceremony of the winners was tainted by the president of the jury Spike Lee mistakenly revealing the winner of the Palme d’Or, the highest distinction, in the early evening.
“Ahed’s Knee” shared the jury’s prize, considered third place, with “Memoria” from former Thai Palm winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Lapid, 46, considered a rising star of Israeli cinema, said the film was loosely based on his own experiences, with what he called growing political pressure in Israel on artists to avoid controversial topics and willingness of some to comply.
Speaking ahead of the victory, Lapid told AFP his greatest concern was how such measures forced artists to censor themselves, recounting how he received a call from an Israeli official, inviting him showing a film in a remote desert village, but also asking him to sign a form promising to stick to certain approved topics.
“The sad thing about Israel is that you don’t need to put tanks in front of the Israeli Film Fund, you don’t need to arrest a director and throw him in jail like in Russia. It’s effective just to say “enough politics, guys, let’s talk about family”.
“What bothers me is not state censorship, but when censorship is part of your soul, of your mind. Censorship from within. He accompanies you like a shadow, ”he said.
The director had previously won first prize at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival for “Synonyms,” a vaguely autobiographical story about a young man trying to shed his Israeli identity when he moved to Paris.
Rosamund Pike, left, poses with Nadav Lapid, center, director of ‘Ahed’s Knee’ and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, director of ‘Memoria’ as they accept the jury award at the award ceremony of the 74th international festival du film, Cannes, South of France, Saturday, July 17, 2021 (AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda)
Julia Ducournau’s ‘Titane’, a wild body horror thriller featuring car sex and a surprisingly tender heart, won the Palme d’Or, making Ducournau the second filmmaker to win the festival’s highest honor. in 74 years of history.
Saturday’s victory was announced in error by the president of the jury Spike Lee at the head of the closing ceremony, broadcast in France on Canal +, triggering a few moments of confusion. Ducournau, a French filmmaker, did not come on stage to accept the award until the official announcement at the end of the ceremony. But the first clue didn’t diminish his emotional response.
“I’m sorry, I keep nodding my head,” Decournau said, catching his breath. ” Is it real? I don’t know why I’m speaking English at the moment because I’m French. This evening was so perfect because it was not perfect.
After several false starts, Lee implored Sharon Stone to make the Palme d’Or announcement, explaining, “She’s not going to ruin everything. The problems started earlier when Lee was asked to say which prize would be awarded first. Instead, he announced the final prize for the evening, as fellow sworn colleague Mati Diop plunged his head in his hands and others rushed to stop him.
Lee, himself, spent several moments with his head in his hands before profusely apologizing for taking much of the suspense out of the evening.
“I have no excuse,” Lee told reporters afterwards. ” I messed up. I am a huge sports fan. It’s like the guy at the end of the game who misses the free kick or misses the kick.
“I was wrong,” he added. “As simple as that. “
Decournau’s victory was a long-awaited triumph. The only former director to win Cannes’ highest honor – among cinema’s most prestigious awards – was Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993. In recent years, frustration with gender parity at Cannes has increased , including in 2018, when women – including Agnes Varda, Cate Blanchett and Salma Hayek – protested gender inequality on the Cannes red carpet. Their number signified the films of female directors selected to compete for the Palme d’Or – 82 against 1,645 films directed by men. This year, four of the 24 films competing for the Palme were directed by women.
The Grand Prize was an honor shared between Iranian drama “A Hero” by Asghar Farhadi and “Apartment No. 6” by Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen.
The award for best director went to Leos Carax for “Annette”, the fantastic musical starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard which opened the festival. The award was accepted by musical duo Sparks, Ron and Russell Mael, who wrote the screenplay and music for the film.
The Croatian drama “Murina”, by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, won the Camera d’Or award, a non-jury award, for best first feature film. Kusijanović was absent from the ceremony after giving birth a day earlier.
Lee was the first president of the black jury in Cannes. Her fellow jury members were: Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Song Kang-ho, Tahar Rahim, Mati Diop, Jessica Hausner, Kleber Mendonça Filho and Mylène Farmer.