France’s Julia Ducournau became only the second female director to win a Palme d’Or for her brazen thriller “Titane” as the 74th Cannes Film Festival wrapped up with a bang on Saturday, having successfully pulled off the first full-scale film festival of the Covid era.
The jury led by Spike Lee gave a Palme d’Or for one of the most audacious and divisive films to screen in competition in recent years. The manner of Ducournau`s win was equally startling as the ceremony started where it should have ended, with Lee mistakenly announcing the Palme d’Or award from the get-go.
A gender-bending, genre-blending, serial-killer oddball that shocked and delighted in equal measure, “Titane” is certainly a bold choice for one of the most prestigious prizes in film. It ends the long wait for a second female laureate since Jane Campion won the Palme d’Or in 1993 for “The Piano”.
“Titane” marks Ducournau’s follow-up to the 2016 shocker “Grave”, the coming-of-age tale of a teenage vegetarian who develops a taste for human flesh. It stars Agathe Rousselle as an accident survivor with a metal plate in her head and a penchant for cars – though not for driving them – who crosses paths with a lonely fire chief in need of emotional healing (played by Vincent Lindon).
The film confirms Ducournau’s status as the leader of an exciting new current in French cinema, blending genre filmmaking and queer concerns.