Whiplash drums up a storm in Deauville

Double prizes whammy plus a standing ovation.

by Richard Mowe

Composer Nicholas Britell, director Damien Chazelle and actor Miles Telle with the Grand Prize for Whiplash after the closing ceremony of the Deauville Festival of American Film Festival.
Composer Nicholas Britell, director Damien Chazelle and actor Miles Telle with the Grand Prize for Whiplash after the closing ceremony of the Deauville Festival of American Film Festival.

One of the prize-winners from the Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash, added further accolades to its reputation by scooping the Grand Prize at the Deauville Festival of American Cinema on Saturday night (13 September).

The prize was bestowed by the jury including new new president of the Cannes Film Festival Pierre Lescure and veteran French directors André Techiné, Costa-Gavras, and Claude Lelouch, whose iconic Sixties romantic fable A Man And A Woman was filmed on the beach here.

From director Damien Chazelle, the film stars Miles Teller as a young jazz drummer who attends one of the best music schools in the country under the tutelage of the school’s fearsome maestro of jazz (J. K. Simmons). It received a standing ovation at its screening, and also won the audience award for favourite film of the festival.

Chazelle who was in attendance, said that receiving the prize from the jury stacked with Oscar, César and Palme d'Or winners was a special honour. While in the seaside resort in Normand Teller had tried his luck at the Casino but with little success. “This makes up for it," he said at the ceremony.

Sudanese refugee drama The Good Lie, directed by Philippe Falardeau and starring Legally Blonde actress Reece Witherspoon, was awarded the second place Jury Prize. The film is the heartfelt story of an American woman who gets involved in the extraordinary saga of the Lost Boys of Sudan. It is the end result of a 13-year odyssey by screenwriter Margaret Nagle to tell this story of war, famine, upheaval and emigration in an honest way. Nagle wrote the role with Witherspoon in mind.

Miles Teller as a young jazz drummer under the tutelage of a maestro of jazz played by JK Simmons in Whiplash.
Miles Teller as a young jazz drummer under the tutelage of a maestro of jazz played by JK Simmons in Whiplash.

A special 40th Anniversary Award went to Things People Do from director Saar Klein and marking his feature-directing debut. Klein, an editor who earned Oscar nominations for his work on Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line and Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. He noted that the award had energised him into getting back in to the directorial fray.

The separate Revelation jury of director Audrey Dana, Anne Beres, Lola Bessis, singer Christine & the Queens, Bates Motel actor Freddie Highmore and The Tunnel actress Clemence Poesy, awarded the Cartier prize for best first film to Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.

David Robert Mitchell's It Follows took the Critics' Prize. "It's really wonderful to be back here four years later with my second film," said Mitchell, whose The Myth Of The American Sleepover took the jury prize in 2010.

Compromised between the Venice and Toronto film festivals Deauville strives to make an impression outside France with its anniversary edition marred by such no-shows as director James Cameron who was slated for special career achievement award. The event also struggled for wide media coverage with many international journalists preferring to eschew Deauville in favour of other festivals around the same time.

The closing days of the Festival were enlivened by the presence of Pierce Brosnan for The November Man, Abel Ferrara for Pasolini, and producer Brian Grazer (career achievement recipient), his co-producer Mick Jagger, director Tate Taylor and star Chadwick Boseman for the European première of Get On Up.

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