Top Cannes award for 'daring' This Life Of Mine

Kodi from Dog On Trial scoops the canine gong as first prizes announced

by Richard Mowe

Agnès Jaoui gives a bravura performance in Sophie Fillière’s last film This Life Of Mine which was awarded a Coup de Coeur prize
Agnès Jaoui gives a bravura performance in Sophie Fillière’s last film This Life Of Mine which was awarded a Coup de Coeur prize Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Directors’ Fortnight
Before the announcement tomorrow of all the Cannes glittering prizes from the main Competition and Un Certain Regard, including the winner of the ultimate accolade the Palme d’Or, other announcements have been arriving thick and fast.

In the Directors’ Fortnight the late screenwriter and director Sophie Fillières was honoured for her seventh and final feature This Life Of Mine (Ma Vie, Ma Gueule) featuring a bravura performance from Agnès Jaoui as middle-aged woman facing up the realities of life after 55. The film, which progresses from comedy to tragedy, was named as France’s Writers’ Guild Favourite Prize or Coup de Coeur.

Simon Of The Mountain
Simon Of The Mountain
Anne Villacèque, président of the SACD (La société des auteurs, described it as “a daring, delicate unpredictable film.” She added: “It walks on the edge of the abyss, clumsily, but always valiantly.”

The director began shooting the film in late June 2023. It finished shooting at the end of July Fillières went into the hospital the next day. She died less than a month later at only 58. The post-production was supervised by her children, actors Agathe and Adam Bonitzer, with regular notes that their mother would send from the hospital as it became clear to her that she’d never complete the project herself.

Also in the Directors’ Fortnight, Universal Language by director Matthew Rankin has won the first-ever Chantal Akerman award, an audience prize presented to the best film in this section of the festival. The prize is named after the Belgian auteur, who died in 2015. The film is a comedy drama set against a surreal mix of Canada and Iran.

Palm Dog winner Kodi with Laetitia Dosch in Dog On Trial
Palm Dog winner Kodi with Laetitia Dosch in Dog On Trial Photo: Courtesy Cannes Film Festival
Spanish director Jonas Trueba received the Europa Cinema Label top prize for his debut feature The Other Way Around, described as “an anti-romantic comedy,” revolving around a young Spanish couple bent on celebrating their break-up. Trueba’s father is Fernando Trueba, who co-wrote and directed the Oscar-winning feature Belle Epoque.

The Directors’ Fortnight jury was headed by Canadian director Xavier Dolan who praised the film as “humorous and cleverly written.”

Further along the Croisette in Critics’ Week the feature debut by Argentine’s Federico Luis, Simon of the Mountain, won the Grand Prize for its depiction of the coming-of-age of a young man struggling with a mental disorder. The French Touch Prize was awarded to US-Chinese filmmaker Constance Tsang’s Blue Sun Palace. The Rising Star Award went to Ricardo Teodoro for his performance in the gay romantic drama Baby by Brazilian director Marcelo Caetano.

Breaking up is not so hard to do in The Other Way around with Vito Sanz and Itsaso Arana, winner of the Europa Cinema Label award
Breaking up is not so hard to do in The Other Way around with Vito Sanz and Itsaso Arana, winner of the Europa Cinema Label award Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Directors' Fortnight
The Gan Foundation Award for Distribution went to Jour2Fête to support its French distribution campaign for the tennis drama Julie Keeps Quiet from Belgian director Leonardo Van Dijl.

The Leitz Cine Discovery Prize for best short film went to Montsouris Park by Guil Sela.

The annual celebration of canine prowess on screen the Palm Dog award has been given to Kodi (a ten-year-old Griffon cross) who stars as Cosmos in the French-Swiss comedy drama Dog On Trial from director and star Laetitia Dosch. Her film explores how we treat animals and the place of canines in society. The Palm Dog’s Grand Jury Prize found an eager recipient in Xin, a Jack Russell-Greyhound cross in Un Certain Regard entry Black Dog from Chinese director Guan Hu, and starring Taiwanese actor and singer Eddie Peng whose character is charged with removing stray dogs from his home base before the Olympic Games.

Last year’s Palm Dog winner Messi (the Border Collie) from Palme d’Or winner Anatomy OF A Fall was back on the Croisette this year with his own TV show of eight one-minute episodes giving a canine perspective on the Festival.

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