The way it works, typically, at the major film festivals, the hype and buzz are frontloaded. To be clear, I’m not talking about the quality of the projects, and this is no disrespect to the films and the filmmakers showcased towards the end of a film festival, I’m talking about conventional attention – and you don’t have to be an entertainment industry insider to know this. Festivals like Cannes, Venice, TIFF, New York etc usually span two weekends and it’s the first weekend where they usually stack the big names and the big projects. Which is why the media, in years past, would book their travel for the early part of the festivals and be gone by the end. I’ve covered Cannes and TIFF for many years and by the second weekend, the carpets are almost ghost towns compared to how packed they are on the first weekend.
Which is why I love that the second weekend of Cannes 2021 was kinda wild in comparison to previous years when the closing ceremony is a formality and it kinda went with the spirit of the film that won the Palme d’Or, Julia Ducournau’s Titane; the Guardian called it a “suitable rock’n’roll ending for this year’s festival”. Rachel Handler did a great interview with her for Vulture, calling the film a “triumphant scream of a movie, a balls-to-the-wall, darkly funny body-horror extravaganza about aching loneliness, found families, and breasts that leak motor oil”.
So when Spike Lee announced that Titane had won the Palme d’Or way earlier than he was supposed to, and apologised for it later, it seemed the closing ceremony kinda matched the film that was honoured, without the enduring negativity of what happened at the Oscars with Moonlight and La La Land.
And apparently the premature reveal of the Palme d’Or didn’t diminish the emotion of the moment and Julia Ducournau reflected beautifully on the situation in her acceptance speech to bring it back to humanity, which is the anchor of storytelling. Per Deadline:
“Amid a standing ovation, she said, “I I keep shaking my head… I don’t know why I’m speaking English, I’m French. This evening has been amazing. Thank you Spike, it’s because of you.”
She continued, in French, to explain she had watched awards ceremonies from a young age and “was sure that all winners must be perfect because they were on this stage. Tonight I am on this stage and I know my movie is not perfect, but I don’t think any film is perfect in the eyes of the person who made it, some may even say it’s monstrous.” She concluded that the prize would hopefully recognize “a world that has a need to be more and more fluid.”
I love this because it’s true in my experience – when do we ever look at our work, ourselves, as anything resembling perfect. But more importantly, why do we expect it?
Spike wasn’t perfect, the winning film announcement wasn’t perfect, but for Julie Ducournau, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t one of the most special experiences of her life. And her memory of the night won’t be that there was a mistake.
Yours in gossip,