Ken Loach, a Cannes veteran since 1979, an a Palme D’Or winner in 2006 for The Wind That Shakes the Barley did it again – his I, Daniel Blake took the top prize at the 69th Cannes Film Festival. The drama about a working class family coping with the infernal labyrinth of social welfare bureaucracy was one of best reviewed and liked at the festival, but the win came as a surprise nonetheless. Other films like the German dramedy Toni Erdmann, Paul Verhoeven’s last minute stunner Elle and Chan-wook Park’s The Handmaiden were considered shoo-ins for the top awards. None of them received an accolade.
At the festival closing ceremony the surprises from the jury led by director George Miller kept coming. Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only The End of The World, lambasted by critics and booed by sections of the audience, took the prestigious Grand Prize. Personal Shopper, which received one of the most negative reactions at the media screening, earned its director, Olivier Assayas, the best director award, shared with Cristian Mungiu for his Graduation.
The acting category, where American Honey’s Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf, Aquarius’ Sonia Braga and Paterson’s Adam Driver were favorites, yielded more surprises, crowning Filipino actress Jaclyn Jose for Ma’ Rosa and Iranian actor Shahab Hosseini for The Salesman. The Salesman ended up with two awards, a rarity in Cannes, with writer/director Asghar Farhadi received the Best Screenplay prize.
The only Croisette favorite to win was Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, which took the Jury Prize.
The Camera d'Or for first feature went to Houda Benyamina’s Divines and best short film to Juanjo Gimenez's Timecode, with a special mention to João Paulo Miranda Maria’s The Girl Who Danced With the Devil. Jean-Pierre Leaud received an honorary Palme d’Or