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Cannes Film Festival 2023: Justine Triet's 'Anatomy of a Fall' wins Palme d'Or

Justine Triet, right, accepts the Palme d'Or for 'Anatomy of a Fall,' which was presented by Jane Fonda, left, during the awards ceremony of the 76th film festival.
Justine Triet, right, accepts the Palme d'Or for 'Anatomy of a Fall,' which was presented by Jane Fonda, left, during the awards ceremony of the 76th film festival. Copyright Daniel Cole/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Daniel Cole/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By David Mouriquand
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And the winner is Justine Triet’s ‘Anatomy Of A Fall’, the second solo female director after Julia Ducournau to win the Palme d'Or.

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French director Justine Triet has won this year’s Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for L’anatomie d’une chute (Anatomy of a Fall), becoming only the second solo female director in history to win the Palme d’Or, following Julia Ducournau’s win in 2021 for Titane.

The win comes as something of a shock, as the courtroom drama was well received but was only spoken about on the Croisette as a contender for Best Actress (for Sandra Hüller) or Best Screenplay.

The prestigious Palme d’Or was presented by Jane Fonda.

“First time I came was in 1963,” said Fonda. “The festival was smaller then. There were no female directors competing at that time and it never even occurred to us that there was something wrong with that. We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go.”

"We must celebrate change,” said Fonda about the role of women in cinema, highlighting that this year’s line-up had a “historic” number of female filmmakers – seven in total.

The Jury, presided over by two-time Palme d’Or-winning director Ruben Östlund (The Square, Triangle of Sadness) and including directors Maryam Touzani, Julia Ducournau, Rungano Nyoni, Damián Szifron, as well as actors Denis Ménochet, Brie Larson, Paul Dano, and writer Atiq Rahimi, selected Anatomy of a Fall from 21 films in Competition this year – a particularly strong selection.

Triet's second film in Competition following the 2019 dark comedy Sibyl is a gripping mystery about a writer forced to defend herself in court when she becomes the main suspect in her husband’s ‘murder’. The movie morphs from procedural to courtroom drama, and while it ticks a lot of conventional tropes linked to the genre, Triet and main actress Sandra Hüller keep the confident drama engaging throughout. We knew it wouldn’t go home empty-handed, but were far from thinking it would get the main award.

When accepting the Palme d’Or, Triet mentioned French President Macron’s controversial pension reform, and used her speech to criticise the French government's "shocking" suppression of pension protests. 

“The country suffered from historic protests over the reform of the pension system. These protests were denied … repressed in a shocking way,” she said.

She added that the “commercialisation of culture that this neoliberal government supports is in the process of breaking France’s cultural exception, without which I wouldn’t be here today,” before dedicating the prize to all young directors who can’t shoot their films in a cultural landscape currently more hostile to young talent.

The French culture minister, Rima Abdul Malak, replied on Twitter that "this film would not have seen the light of day without our French model of financing cinema, which allows a diversity that is unique in the world. Let’s not forget it."

Daniel Cole/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Justine Triet, winner of the Palme d'Or for 'Anatomy of a Fall,' poses for photographers during a photo call following the awards ceremony at the 76th film festival.Daniel Cole/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

See the full winners list below.

Quentin Tarantino took to the stage with cinematic legend Roger Corman (who received a standing ovation) to present the Grand Prix, which went to The Zone of Interest, by Jonathan Glazer. The runner-up prize is fitting, but many saw this breathtaking film taking the top gong this year. We certainly thought it would win the Palme d’Or, as no film this year has garnered such critical consensus. (Read our review here.)

The Jury Prize went to one of the unanimous favourites this year in Competition: Fallen Leaves by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki. Actor Orlando Bloom handed out the prize and highlighted the shared experience of cinemagoing. Both lead actors Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen accepted the award of behalf of Kaurismäki, who had the following words for the Cannes audience: “Thank you and TWIST AND SHOUT!” (Read our review here.)

Best Director went to Tran Anh Hung for La Passion de Dodin Bouffant (The Pot-au-feu), a gentle and heartfelt French film starring Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel. Pete Docter, Creative Director of Pixar Studios, presented the prize for a film which won over the critics this year, as it acted as a warm balm. Set in the 19th century, it's about food, love and... more food. The direction is fluid and vivid, but this award is a sleeper win, as the film wasn’t considered as a contender for the Palme this year.

Veteran Japanese actor Koji Yakusho won Best Actor for Wim Wenders’ stunning Perfect Days (as we predicted), a merited win as the entirety of this quietly captivating film about an aging toilet cleaner in Tokyo rests on his shoulders. Actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an actress for Holy Spider awarded the prize. What Yakusho does with only a handful of lines is a masterclass in subtlety. It’s a film that breaks your heart, puts it back together again, and Yakusho is hugely responsible for Perfect Days' unique potency, which sees Wenders taking a lifetime of wisdom and distilling it into a meditative tale about the joys of routinely life.

To the surprise of many, Turkish actress Merve Dizdar won Best Actress for her role in Kuri Otlar Ustune (About Dry Grasses) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Actor Song Kang-ho, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actor for Broker, awarded the prize, which was heavily tipped for German actress Sandra Hüller, who was stunning in both The Zone of Interest and Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall.

Best Screenplay, presented by actor John C. Reilly, President of the Un Certain Regard Jury, was awarded to Monster, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s devastating tale of school bullying which adopts several varying points of view to reveal a touching and ultimately heartbreaking story of love between two young boys.

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Reilly started his speech by remaining silent. He then explained that’s what would happen without a writer, referring to the writers strike in the US. “Every film begins with an idea, and the first thing to do is to write it.”

Screenwriter Yuji Sakamato namechecked Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose score in Monster is a thing of true beauty. Monster also won the Queer Palme during the festival.

The full list of winners:

  • Palme d’Or: Anatomie d’une Chute (Anatomy of a Fall) (Justine Triet)
  • Grand Prix: The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer)
  • Jury Prize: Fallen Leaves (Aki Kaurismäki)
  • Best Director: Tran Anh Hung (La Passion de Dodin Bouffant - The Pot-au-feu)
  • Best Actress: Merve Dizdar (About Dry Grasses)
  • Best Actor: Koji Yakusho (Perfect Days)
  • Best Screenplay: Yuji Sakamato (Monster)
  • Camera d’Or: Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Thien An Pham)
  • Short Film Palme d’Or: 27 (Flóra Anna Buda)

Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for a full debrief of the winning films and the key takeaways from this year’s 76th edition.

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