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Japanese drama 'Shoplifters' wins Palme d'Or at Cannes

May 19, 2018

"Shoplifters" by Hirokazu Kore-eda has won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. A total of 21 movies were competing to win the top prize.

71st annual Cannes Film Festival
Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's win came as a surpriseImage: picture-alliance/abaca/L. Hahn

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda landed a surprise win at the Cannes Film Festival with his drama "Shoplifters," bringing the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival to a close. The director accepted the award in Japanese and dedicated it to the whole production team involved in the movie.

The story focuses on a group of Tokyo misfits and crooks who form an alternative family by taking in a child found on the streets. The film has been referred to as a modern day "Oliver Twist."

US director Spike Lee meanwhile won the runner-up Grand Prix prize for his film "BlacKkKlansman". The movie tells the story of a black police man who infiltrates the Klu Klux Klan.

Kazakhstan's Samal Yeslyamova won the award as best actress for playing a jobless single mother in Sergey Dvortsevoy's "Ayka". Italian actor meanwhile Marcello Fonte won the best actor aware at Cannes for his performance in Matteo Garrone's revenge movie "Dogman."

Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski won the best director award for his love story, "Cold War," set during the 1940s and 1950s of Poland's communist rule. Two films meanwhile were awarded the best screenplay award: Italian drama "Happy as Lazzaro" by Alice Rohrwacher and Iranian drama "3 Faces" by Nader Saeivar and Jafar Panahi.

In 2017, the top prize went to the Swedish satire "The Square," which later went on to bag an Oscar nomination.

The long, dark shadow of #MeToo

But beyond the prize winners, the 71st Cannes Film Festival, which ran May 8 - 19, will likely be remembered for some of its off-screen moments.

This was the first edition of the Cannes festival since the establishment of the #MeToo movement, following the downfall of Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein over accusations of major sexual misconduct by dozens of women. At the closing night of the Cannes Film Festival, Italian actress Asia Argento announced that she was one of the women forced into having sex with Weinstein in 1997 when she was 21 years old. The alleged rape happened during the Cannes Film Festival, she added.

"This festival was his hunting ground. I want to make a prediction: Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again," Argento said.

After the Weinstein scandal broke, dozens of further women in the film industry came forward accussing several Hollywood heavyweights of abusing their power to seek sexual favors.

Australian actress Cate Blanchett
Australian actress Cate Blanchett was the head of the jury at Cannes this yearImage: picture alliance/Everett Collection/A. Otero

Hollywood stars including Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart, Helen Mirren and Salma Hayek as well as directors Ava DuVernay and Patty Jenkins organized a red-carpet protest to demand equal opportunities in the business and a "safe workplace" for women and men alike. Australian actress Cate Blanchett headed this year's jury while US-American actress Kristen Stewart and director Ava DuVernay were among its members.

Festival organisers also signed a formal pledge to encourage more gender parity in its selection by 2020, saying they hoped it would help set an industry standard. Cannes has been criticized for years for the gender imbalance in films selected for screening at the festival.

Read more: Cannes: female movie stars demand improved gender equality

ss/jm (AFP, AP, dpa)