The recently concluded Cannes International Film Festival can be given a variety of names. For some it is the ‘Return Edition’, marking the return of films to cinema. For others, it became the ‘Challenge Edition’, trying to put on a film festival in the midst of a pandemic that has plagued the world for two years.
However, the ‘Triumph Edition’ is perhaps best suited to the 74th edition, a win for women who have worked hard to be recognised as a talented force to reckon with in the world of showbiz.
This year, Cannes recorded the highest number of entries made by women that were presented in all the competitions and programmes of the festival. Even the jury this year saw five women front and centre, despite the group being headed by American filmmaker Spike Lee. Special mention should be given to Andrea Orland who was appointed as the president of Un Certain Regard programme, along with Kaouther Ben Hania who headed the short films competition and Melanie Thierry who headed the jury of Camera D’Or.
However, these names are secondary when looking at the women who swept the awards at the Cannes closing ceremony, with Julia Ducournau winning the coveted Palm d’Or for her movie ‘Titane’, while the Best Short Film prize was awarded to the young Hong Kong director Tang Yi for ‘All The Crows In The World’.
Ducournau received her award from the hands of American actress Sharon Stone, a star who was, and is still, an example of beauty and transcendence despite having lived through a traumatic childhood that was riddled by abuse, along with facing discrimination and gender bias as she made her mark in Hollywood.
Another noteworthy film from the festival is ‘La Civil’, written and direced by young Romanian filmmaker Teodora Ana Mihai, which stars Arcelia Ramirez as a desperate mother who will go to any length to save her kidnapped daughter.
Courage, challenge and transgression is also what brought Egyptian director Omar Al Zuhairi’s ‘Feathers’ into the spotlight at Cannes, allowing him to win the Nespresso Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival’s Critics’ Week.
Al Zuhairi’s film talks about a courageous and determined woman who must face the world and take on responsibility of her family when a magic trick goes wrong and turns her husband into a chicken.
The world’s biggest film festival returned under extraordinary circumsances to the French Riviera after a 2020 hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic in one of the most unpredictable contests in years.
Yet, as the curtains came down on Cannes, it left a lasting legacy that previous festivals couldn’t match.