The evening began with a declaration of war. Italian actress asia argento took to the stage at the cannes film festival awards ceremony right at the start and grabbed the microphone.
"In 1997, I was raped by harvey weinstein here in cannes," said the 42-year-old. "This was his hunting ground."Absolute silence in the auditorium.
Much has been done, but still "tonight there are those among us who must be held accountable. We won’t let you get away with it," she declared pugnaciously, earning euphoric applause at the gala. Her accusations against the hollywood producer were not new, and yet they were meant to be the prelude to an awards ceremony where the voices of women, outsiders and the weak were heard.
The best example is the golden palm: the japanese kore-eda hirokazu received the award for best film for "shoplifters. It tells the story of a patchwork family on the edge of society. The 55-year-old does not stage his work as a political statement, but its quiet and subtle social criticism makes it an emotional plea for more tolerance and cohesion.
The US-american spike lee was much clearer with his contribution "blackkklansman". Based on an unbelievable but true story: at the end of the 70s, a black and a jewish policeman infiltrate the racist ku-klux clan. Lee, who has repeatedly championed the rights of african americans, draws clear parallels to current u.S. Politics and social grievances – the jury, led by president cate blanchett, honored his achievement with the rough award, the festival’s second-highest honor.
"In the past few days, we’ve seen some extraordinary films," blanchett had said shortly beforehand. Many of the contributions had shown "invisible and disenfranchised people". This was also true for the poignant lebanese drama "capernaum," which was honored with the jury’s prize. Director nadine labaki focuses on the twelve-year-old zain, who grows up in a completely neglected parental home. It’s a life of hell on earth; zain is either mistreated or left to fend for herself.
The lebanese filmmaker was also an example of the strong female presence at the awards ceremony. Kazakhstan’s samal yeslyamova won the award for best actress. In the german co-production "ayka" by sergey dvortsevoy, she convinced with her intense portrayal of a mother who abandons her newborn child because she cannot afford to have a child as an illegal helper in russia.
And women also played a leading role in the awards for best screenplay. Not only has italian filmmaker alice rohrwacher won an award for her tale-like work "happy is lazzaro. A second screenplay award went to the iranians jafar panahi and nader saeivar for "three faces". Panahi, who made another film in his home country despite being banned from the profession, focuses on three actresses of different generations who fight against social conventions.
It is precisely this fighting spirit that the entire 71. Festival edition to remember. For even though strangely few stars walked the red carpet at the croisette during the filmfest, the competition surprised with almost consistently good and sometimes very strong films – many of which were dedicated to the supposedly weak, but also to their rebellion. So even if harsh realities played a rough role: a spark of hope was mostly to be traced as well.