Spike Lee at Cannes: Director mistakenly reveals big winner at Cannes Film Festival

The awards ceremony for the 74th Cannes Film Festival has started where it should have ended, with jury president Spike Lee mistakenly announcing that the serial killer odyssey “Titane” as the winner of the festival’s top honor, the Palme d’Or.

If confirmed at the end of the show, it would make French director Julia Ducournau only the second female filmmaker to win the festival’s top honor.

Shouting and several moments of confusion ensued after Lee announced “Titane,” but Ducournau did not come to the stage to accept. The ceremony continued and other awards were handed out while Lee was seen with his head in his hands.

Nadav Lapid’s “Ahed’s Knee” won the jury prize, while Caleb Landry Jones took home the best actor prize.

The Croatian coming-of-age drama “Murina,” by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, took the Camera d’Or award, a non-jury prize, for best first feature. Kusijanović was absent from the ceremony after giving birth a day earlier.

Cannes’ closing ceremony caps 12 days of red-carpet premieres, regular COVID-19 testing for many attendees and the first major film festival to be held since the pandemic began in almost its usual form. With smaller crowds and mandated mask-wearing in theaters, Cannes pushed forward with an ambitious slate of global cinema. Last year’s Cannes was completely canceled by the pandemic.

Twenty-four movies are in contention for the Palme. The jury’s deliberations are private and unknown, but that never stops a wide spectrum of predictions, guesses and betting odds. This year featured a strong slate of many top international filmmakers, but no movie was viewed as the clear favorite.

Among the best-received films at the festival were: Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s portrait of honor and social media “A Hero”; Chadian filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s abortion drama “Lingui”; Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s meditative, Tilda Swinton-led “Memoria”; French director Julia Ducournau’s wild, high-octane serial-killer odyssey “Titane”; Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” follow-up, “Red Rocket”; Japan’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Haruki Murakami adaptation, “Drive My Car”; and Russian director Kirill Serebennikov’s influenza tale “Petrov’s Flu.”

In 2019, the Palme went to Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” which later took best picture at the Academy Awards, too. Only one female filmmaker has ever won Cannes top award (Jane Campion for “The Piano”), so a win for Ducournau or Mia Hansen-Løve (“Berman Island”) would be history making. If Haroun were victorious, it would be the second time a film from Africa won.

Lee is the first Black jury president at Cannes. His fellow jury members are: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Song Kang-ho, Tahar Rahim, Mati Diop, Jessica Hausner, Kleber Mendonça Filho and Mylène Farmer.

Before the ceremony, Lee and the jury posed for photographers holding hands on the red carpet.

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