The Cannes Film Festival has room for all kinds of movies about all kinds of humans – as well as our four-legged best friends. The Palm Dog Award has been recognising the “best performance by a canine (live or animated) or group of canines” since 2001. This year’s winner is Nellie, the bulldog from Paterson. Jim Jarmusch’s drama about a bus driver and a poet was screened in the Competition section, and Nellie was a clear frontrunner for the award. The bulldog, who died a few months ago, is the first posthumous recipient of the prize, which is a collar.
Set up by British journalist Toby Rose, the Palm Dog ceremony is one of the lighter sidebar events at the festival. The event inspires puns that would not be permitted for the rest of the Cannes coverage. The Telegraph calls the event cinema’s “Nouvelle Wag”, which an AFP report announcing the prize this year declared that “...the audience was sad to learn that Nellie was no longer around and a body double Bulldog was brought in to soothe the pup-arazzi.”
Here is a look at five other woof-worthy winners from previous years.
Bruno in ‘Triplets of Bellville’ One of the most charming animated dogs out there, Bruno beats all the tail-wagging and overly cute anthropomorphised beasts from the Disney kennel. For one thing, he can barely lift his enormous belly off the ground. But he does dream, Bruno does.
Zochor from ‘The Cave of the Yellow Dog’ It’s hard to decide who is cuter in this Mongolian movie from 2005 – the rosy-cheeked girl from a livestock rearing family or the stray dog that she adopts.
The strays from ‘Mid Road Gang’ This Thai comedy proves that redevelopment projects in cities affect animals too. Forced off their turf by a mall, a group of stray dogs seeks a better life. The pooches attempt to cross a busy highway to the other side where a “dogtopia” awaits them.
Lucy in ‘Wendy and Lucy’ A woman attempts to make new beginnings in Alaska along with her dog, the mixed-breed and loyal Lucy. When Lucy gets lost, Wendy changes her course. You would too.
The cast of ‘White God’ Kornel Mundcruzo’s acclaimed Hungarian movie also won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2014. The allegorical tale follows a 13-year-old girl whose father turns out her beloved pet dog Hagen, which then becomes part of a feral pack that takes over the city. The sequence in which 200 trained dogs rampage through the empty streets of Budapest is easily one of the most scintillating uses ever of canines in cinema.