Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s ‘Ahed’s Knee’ wins jury prize at Cannes

Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s “Haberech” or “Ahed’s Knee”, a passionate drama about creative freedom in modern Israel, won the jury award at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

The ceremony announcing the winners was marred by jury president Spike Lee, who erroneously revealed the winner of the Palme d’Or, the top prize, at the start of the evening.

“Ahed’s Knee” shared the jury prize, which was considered third place, with “Memoria” by Thailand’s former Palme winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Lapid, 46, considered a growing star of Israeli cinema, said the film was loosely based on his own experiences with what he called a growing political pressure in Israel on artists to avoid controversial topics and the willingness of some to adhere.

Speaking ahead of the victory, Lapid told AFP that his main concern was how such movements forced artists to censor themselves, and to tell how he received a call from an Israeli official, urging him to present a film in a remote desert village , but also ask him to sign a form that promises to adhere to certain approved topics.

“The sad thing about Israel is that you do not have to put tanks in front of the Israeli Film Fund, you do not have to arrest a director and throw him in jail like in Russia. It’s effective just to say ‘enough politics, guys, let’s talk about family.’

“What bothers me is not the censorship of the state, but when censorship becomes part of your soul, your mind. Censorship from within. It accompanies you like a shadow, ”he said.

The director previously won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2019 for “Synonyms,” a loose autobiographical story about a young man who tries to shed his Israeli identity when he moves to Paris.

Rosamund Pike, left, poses with Nadav Lapid, center, director of ‘Ahed’s Knee’ and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, director of ‘Memoria’, as they accept the jury award during the award ceremony for the 74th International Film Festival, Cannes, Southern France, Saturday 17. July 2021. (AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda)

A female winner

Julia Ducournau’s “Titane”, a wild body horror thriller with sex with a car and a surprisingly tender heart, won the Palme d’Or, making Ducournau the second female filmmaker to win the festival’s greatest honor in its 74-year history.

The victory on Saturday was mistakenly announced by jury president Spike Lee at the top of the closing ceremony, which was broadcast in France on Canal +, and unleashed some moments of confusion. Ducournau, a French filmmaker, did not come on stage to accept the award before the formal announcement at the end of the ceremony. But the early tip did not diminish from her emotional reaction.

“I’m sorry, I’m still shaking my head,” Decournau said, breathing. “Is this correct? I do not know why I speak English right now because I am French. This evening has been so perfect because it was not perfect. ”

Director Julia Ducournau, center, winner of the Palme d’Or for the film ‘Titane’ poses with Agathe Roussell, left, and Vincent Lindon during the awards ceremony at the 74th International Film Festival, Cannes, Southern France, on Saturday 17 July at 2021. (AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda)

After several false starts, Lee Sharon asked Stone to publish the Palme d’Or, explaining, “She does not want to ruin it.” The problems started earlier when Lee was asked to say which prize was awarded first. Instead, he announced the evening’s final award when jury member Mati Diop threw his head in his hands and others hurried to stop him.

Lee himself spent several moments with his head in his hands before apologizing violently for taking much of the excitement out of the evening.

“I have no excuses,” Lee told reporters afterwards. “I failed. I’m a big sports fan. It’s like the guy at the end of the game who misses the free kick or misses the kick.”

“I messed up,” he added. “As simple as that.”

Decournau’s victory was a long-awaited triumph. The only former female filmmaker to win Cannes ‘top honor – among the most prestigious awards in cinema – was Jane Campion for “The Piano” in 1993. In recent years, frustration over Cannes’ gender parity has grown, also in 2018, when 82 women – including Agnes Varda, Cate Blanchett and Salma Hayek – protested against gender inequality on Cannes’ red carpet. Their number drew the films of female directors selected to compete for the Palme d’Or – 82 compared to 1,645 films directed by men. This year, four out of 24 films up to The Palm were directed by women.

The Grand Prix was a joint honorable mention between Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian drama “A Hero” and Finnish director Juho Kuosman’s “Apartment No. 6.”

Nadav Lapid, left, director of ‘Ahed’s Knee’ and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, director of ‘Memoria’ accept the jury award at the award ceremony of the 74th International Film Festival, Cannes, Southern France, Saturday 17 July 2021. (AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda )

Best Director was awarded to Leos Carax for “Annette”, the amazing musical with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard opening the festival. The award was accepted by the musical duo Sparks, Ron and Russell Mael, who wrote the script and music for the film.

The Croatian adult drama drama “Murina” by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović received the Camera d’Or award, an award outside the jury, for best first performance. Kusijanović was absent from the ceremony after giving birth a day earlier.

Lee was the first black jury president at Cannes. His jury members were: Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Song Kang-ho, Tahar Rahim, Mati Diop, Jessica Hausner, Kleber Mendonça Filho and Mylène Farmer.

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