Migrant drama Dheepan has taken the Palme d’Or, the top award at the Cannes film festival in France, Sky News reports. The film is about a trio of Sri Lankans who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country to go to France. It was selected by a jury led by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film’s French director Jacques Audiard told the closing ceremony: “I’m thinking of my father. I’m very moved. Winning a prize from the Coen brothers is something that is exceptional.”
The runner-up prize, the Grand Prix, went to Son of Saul, a Hungarian drama about the Holocaust by first-time director László Nemes. The winner of the best director award went to Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien for The Assassin. The best actress prize was split between Rooney Mara of 1950s lesbian drama Carol, and Emmanuelle Bercot, the French star of marriage drama My King.
France’s Vincent Lindon won best actor for his part in La Loi du Marché (The Measure of a Man). Dheepan has been hailed as an important work amid a background of immigration, with thousands of people crossing the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe. It stars Jesuthasan Antonythasan as a former Tamil Tiger who recruits a young girl and a woman to pretend to be his family in order to gain asylum in Europe.
Scott Roxborough, a critic for The Hollywood Reporter, said Audiard had been in the running for a Cannes award for a long time. “I don’t think it’s his best film but it’s a hot topic,” he said. Audiard won the Grand Prix with A Prophet in 2009, but a number of film critics expressed surprise after Sunday’s verdict as Dheepan was not considered by some to be as good as his earlier work.
In the post-awards news conference Jake Gyllenhaal, who was also on the jury, said what he found engaging about the film was that it was about how three strangers became a family. Others on the jury included British actress Sienna Miller and Mexican director Guillermo del Toro.