Japanese director wins Palme d’Or at Cannes

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda took home the top prize -- the Palme d’Or -- for his film “Manbiki Kazoku” (“Shoplifters”) at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. Kore-eda is only the second Asian Palme d’Or winner this millennium (after Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul for “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” 2010). This is the seventh time that a director from Asia has bagged the coveted trophy.

The director, who was contesting in the festival’s main competition for the fifth time, won the Palme d’Or for the deeply felt film about a cobbled-up family existing on the margins of society and fighting to prevent itself from imploding.

Spike Lee’s engaging, feisty anti-racism period drama “BlacKkKansman,” the true story of an African-American police detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs in the 1970s, won the Grand Prix, while Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki’s neorealist Beirut street life tale “Capharnaum” earned the Jury Prize.

The Best Director prize went to Poland’s Pawel Pawlikowski for the wonderfully well-crafted black-and-wh­ite “Cold War,” a 1950s story of impossible love between a music composer and a gifted singer -- two strong-willed individuals from dissimilar backgrounds drawn to each other amid disruptions caused by history.

Asian, Arab and women filmmakers scored big at the closing ceremony of this year’s festival. On Wednesday, in the parallel Cannes Critics’ Week, the Franco-Indian co-production “Sir,” directed by debutante Rohena Gera, had won the Gan Foundation Award for Distribution. The film’s principal characters -- a wealthy young Mumbai man and his efficient, ambitious housemaid -- are played by Vivek Gomber and Tillotama Shome. The section’s top prize -– the Grand Prix -– went to the Brazilian comedy-drama “Diamantino,” about a footballer whose life is upended by an error in a crucial World Cup final and the death of his father.   

Besides Kore-eda, Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi (along with co-screenwriter Nader Saeivar) figured on the Cannes 2018 winners list with “Se Rokh” (3 Faces), which shared the Best Screenplay prize with Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s “Lazzaro Felice” (Happy as Lazzaro). Lazzaro, one of three women directors in the fray, joined Labaki among this year’s winners. The only woman who missed out was Eva Husson, whose “Girls of the Sun,” was panned by the critics.