Director Sean Baker, Palme d'Or award winner for the film "Anora", poses with Vache Tovmasyan, Samantha Quan, Mikey Madison, Alex Coco and Karren Karagulian during a photocall after the closing ceremony of the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 25, 2024. Image Credit: Reuters

CANNES: "Anora", an explicit and often hilarious story about a New York erotic dancer, won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

Director Sean Baker was confirmed as one of the leading voices of American indie cinema with the prize, which also promises to make a star of 25-year-old Mikey Madison.

She plays a dancer who strikes gold with a wealthy client, only to face the wrath of his Russian oligarch parents.

As head of the jury, "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig praised "Anora" as an "incredible, human and humane film that captured our hearts".

Sean Baker
US director Sean Baker poses with the trophy during a photocall after he won the Palme d'Or for the film "Anora" during the Closing Ceremony at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 25, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Baker, who made the acclaimed "The Florida Project" and "Red Rocket", said: "This literally has been my singular goal for the past 30 years, so I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with the rest of my life."

He dedicated the prize to all sex workers and appealed for filmmakers to "keep cinema alive".

"This means making films intended for theatrical exhibition," the 53-year-old said.

"The world has to be reminded that watching a film at home while scrolling through your phone and checking emails and half paying attention is just not the way - although some tech companies would like us to think so."

'Harmony of sisterhood'

The 77th edition of the festival on the French Riviera saw several highly charged feminist and political movies, and lots of gore and sex.

A trans woman won best actress for the first time, as Karla Sofia Gascon took the award for her role in the audacious musical "Emilia Perez", in which she plays a Mexican narco boss who becomes a woman.

The jury shared it between Gascon and her co-stars Zoe Saldana, Selena Gomez and Adriana Paz - saying they were rewarding the "harmony of sisterhood" - though only Gascon was at the ceremony.

'Deeply sad'

A devastating Iranian film about a family torn apart by the country's recent women-led protests, "The Seed of the Sacred Fig" was given a special jury prize for "drawing attention to unsustainable injustice".

Its director Mohammad Rasoulof, 51, escaped from Iran to avoid a lengthy prison sentence just before the festival.

Rasoulof said his heart was with the film's crew, "still under the pressure of the secret services back in Iran".

(From L) Indian actresses Kani Kusruti, Chhaya Kadam, Indian director Payal Kapadia and Indian actress Divya Prabha pose during a photocall after they won the Grand Prix for the film "All We Imagine as Light" during the Closing Ceremony at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 25, 2024.

The second-place Grand Prix went to "All We Imagine as Light", the first Indian entry in 30 years.

It wowed critics with its poetic monsoon-set portrayal of two women who have migrated to Mumbai to work as nurses.

"Emilia Perez" also won the third-place Jury Prize for its French director, Jacques Audiard.


Best director went to Portugal's Miguel Gomes for "Grand Tour", an oblique tale about a man abandoning his fiancee and travelling around Asia.

Best screenplay went to "The Substance" starring Demi Moore, an ultra-gory horror film about the pressures women face to maintain bodily 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".

The winners at the 77th Cannes Film Festival

The 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival ended Saturday in the south of France with the awarding of its top prize, the Palme d'Or. Here is a list of the winners:

Palme d'Or: Sean Baker for "Anora"

Grand Prix: Payal Kapadia for "All We Imagine as Light"

Best director: Miguel Gomes for "Grand Tour"

Best actress: Karla Sofia Gascon, Zoe Saldana, Selena Gomez and Adriana Paz for "Emilia Perez"

Best actor: Jesse Plemons for "Kinds of Kindness"

Best screenplay: Coralie Fargeat for "The Substance"

Special Jury Prize: Mohammad Rasoulof for "The Seed of the Sacred Fig"

Camera d'Or for best first film: Halfdan Ullmann Tondel for "Armand"

Best short film: Nebojsa Slijepcevic for "The Man who Could Not Remain Silent"