Unclenching The Fists takes Un Certain Regard prize

Women to the fore as jury announces Cannes accolades

by Richard Mowe

Unclenching The Fists
Unclenching The Fists Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
The Russian filmmaker Kira Kovalenko’s Unclenching The Fists has won the top accolade in Un Certain Regard, the sidebar section of the Cannes Festival focused this year on emerging film-makers.

The drama, which is set in a former mining town in Russia’s southern region of North Ossetia, tells the story of a young woman trying to break free from her family’s grip.

Kovalenko, who wrote and directed the film, was unable to attend the awards ceremony in person as she is on set for another film.

La Civil
La Civil Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
The Icelandic horror-comedy hybrid Lamb, received a special jury prize for originality. The remaining three awards were presented to female-directed films, with French actor-turned-filmmaker Hafsia Herzi’s Marseille-set family drama Good Mother winning a prize for best ensemble performance. Rumanian director Teodora Ana Mihai received a special prize for courage for her Mexican-set drama La Civil, which chronicles a mother’s search for her daughter after the girl is kidnapped by a criminal cartel.

Prayers for the Stolen, the first fiction film by Mexican documentary maker Tatiana Huezo, received a special mention from the jury.

Six of the 20 films in the section were films by first-time directors, which means they will also compete for the still to be announced Camera d’or prize.

Director and screenwriter Andrea Arnold, whose documentary Cow featured in the Cannes Première selection, presided over the jury of director and screenwriter Mounia Meddour, actress Elsa Zylberstein, director and screenwriter Daniel Burman and Michael Covino, director and actor.

Arnold said: "In our discussions, the two things we were constantly saying were, 'This film is very brave' and 'This film come from the heart'. Many of the films are very passionate and many of the films are talking about things which are hard to talk about. We’d like to acknowledge all the filmmakers for their brave and beautiful work. Their films created vigorous debates."

The awards in full:

Grand Prize

Unclenching The Fists, Kira Kovalenko

Jury Prize

Great Freedom, Sebastian Meise

Ensemble Prize

Good Mother, Hafsia Herzi

Prize of Courage

La Civil, Teodora Ana Mihai

Prize of Originality

Lamb, Vladimir Johannsson

Special Mention

Noche De Fuego (Prayers for the Stolen), Tatiana Huezo

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