An old dog can teach the world new tricks, as has been proven by Ken Loach’s scooping of the top honour at the Cannes Film Festival. The jury of the 69th edition, which was headed by Mad Max director George Miller and comprised Kirsten Dunst, Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Paradis and Donald Sutherland, awarded the Palme d’Or to Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, which is rumoured to be the 79-year-old British director’s last movie. The Competition comprised 21 films.
I, Daniel Blake is a critique of austerity policies, told through a single mother and a middle-aged carpenter who team up to apply for state welfare for medical treatment. Loach has previously won the Palme d’Or in 2006 for his period film about the Irish war of independence, titled The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Loach also won the Jury Prize in 2013 for The Angels’ Share, about a young criminal who tries to stay out of prison.
The Grand Prix, or the second highest honour, went to Canadian enfant terrible Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, a dysfunctional family drama centred on a terminally ill writer and starring Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux and Nathalie Baye.
The Best Director gong was split between French filmmaker Oliver Assayas and Romanian auteur Cristian Mungiu. Assayas won for Personal Shopper, a ghost story featuring Kristen Stewart in search of her dead twin brother.
Mungiu shared the award for Graduation, which examines corruption in Romanian society through the efforts of a doctor trying to arrange for a British university seat for his daughter. Mungiu previously won the Palme d’Or for his gritty abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days in 2007.
Asghar Farhadi from Iran went home with two gongs. The best actor award was given to Shahab Hosseini from Farhadi’s The Salesman, in which a middle-class couple is torn apart by a sudden event. Farhadi, director of About Elly and A Separation, also won the Best Screenplay award.
Filipino director Brillante Mendoza’s Ma Rosa, a hostage drama about a face-off between low-level drug dealers and corrupt police officials, won Jaclyn Jose the best actress award.
Andrea Arnold’s acclaimed American Honey, featuring newcomer Sasha Lee as a teenager on a road trip through the American Midwest, won the Jury Prize. The award for the best first feature film, called the Camera d’Or, went to Houda Benyamina’s Divines, a coming of age story about a French-Arab teenager.
The winners in the Un Certain Regard section had previously been announced. The best film was named The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki by Juho Kuosmanen. The Finnish production is a biopic of the boxer Olli Mäki and his championship match against American featherweight champion Davey Moore in 1962.
Matt Ross was named Best Director in the Un Certain Regard section for Captain Fantastic, about a family that has to assimilate into society after years of living in isolation.
Juanjo Gimenez’s Timecode, about two security guards at a parking lot, won the short film award. Les Vies de Thérèse, Sébastien Lifshitz’s documentary about the last weeks in the life of feminist Thérèse Clerc, was awarded the Queer Palm.
Legendary French actor Jean-Pierre Leaud, who was introduced to the world in François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959), was given the honorary Palme d’Or. For the complete list of winners, see here.