Cannes Film Fest 2024: Sean Baker’s “Anora” Wins Palme d’Or (Tribute to Sex Workers)

Sean Baker’s Anora Wins Cannes Palme d’Or

(From L) US producer Sean Baker, Russian actor Mark Eydelshteyn and US actress Mikey Madison arrive for the screening of the film "Anora" at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 21, 2024. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
AFP via Getty Images

Sean Baker won the Palme d’Or for “Anora,” a rowdy romance between an exotic dancer (Mikey Madison) and the rich son of a Russian oligarch (played by Mark Eydelshteyn).

Baker is the first American filmmaker to cinch the festival’s top prize since Terrence Malick earned the Palme for “The Tree of Life” in 2011.

Anora is Baker’s third film to debut at Cannes, following The Florida Project and Red Rocket.

Baker dedicated the award to “all sex workers, past, present and future,” underscoring the importance of “making films intended for theatrical exhibition.”

“The world has to be reminded that watching a film at home, while scrolling through your phone … is not the way. Watching a film with others in a movie theater is one of the great communal experiences. So I say the future of cinema is where it started: in a movie theater.”

Payal Kapadia accepted the Grand Prix — the festival’s second-highest award — for All We Imagine as Light, the first Indian film selected for competition in 30 years.

The last, Shaji Karun’s “Swaham” went up against “Pulp Fiction” for the Palme in 1994.

The movie focuses on the connections between three Mumbai women of different ages and classes.

Cottin playfully interrupted actor Laurent Lafitte’s presentation of the first award to ask whether his speech had been written by ChatGPT. Playing off that joke, the best screenplay prize went to French director Coralie Fargeat for the “bold, beautifully bonkers” (in Green’s words) cosmetic-surgery horror show “The Substance,” which stars a still-stunning Demi Moore as a has-been Hollywood beauty and Margaret Qualley as the younger, more perfect doppelganger with whom she agrees to split her time.

The jury broadened the usual best actress category to celebrate what Lily Gladstone called “the harmony of sisterhood” in “Emilia Pérez.” Directed by former Palme d’Or winner Jacques Audiard (“Dheepan”), the Mexico-set musical — about a cartel boss who disappears in order to reemerge as a woman — stars Zoe Saldaña, Selena Gomez and trans star Karla Sofía Gascón. The film also won the jury award.

Best actor honors went to Jesse Plemons, who plays three roles — a submissive businessman, a grieving police officer and a bisexual cult member — in Kinds of Kindness, a surrealist satire from “Poor Things” director Yorgos Lanthimos.

The jury created a special award — greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation — for Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, who attended the Cannes Film Fest at great personal risk, fleeing an eight-year prison sentence for making political drama The Seed of the Sacred Fig.

The three-hour film examines the country’s recent Women, Life, Freedom movement through a middle-class family whose two daughters question their father’s role in the regime.

Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes won the directing award for Grand Tour, which blends black-and-white and color footage, period reenactments and contemporary anthropological glimpses. It tells the early 20th-century story of a British civil servant who attempts to flee his fiancée by hopping from one Asian country to the next.

The Camera d’Or prize for best first feature went to Halfdan Ullman Tondel’s Armand, while a (non-standard) special mention went to Directors’ Fortnight selection “Mongrel,” co-directed by Chiang Wei Liang and You Qiao Yin.

Full list of prizes below.


Palme d’Or: “Anora,” Sean Baker

Grand Prix: “All We Imagine as Light,” Payal Kapadia

Director: Miguel Gomes, “Grand Tour”

Actor: Jesse Plemons, “Kinds of Kindness.”

Best Actresses: “Emilia Pérez”

Jury Prize: “Emilia Pérez”

Special Award (Prix Spécial): Mohammad Rasoulof, “The Seed of the Sacred Fig”

Screenplay: Coralie Fargeat, “The Substance”


Camera d’Or: “Armand,” Halfdan Ullman Tondel

Camera d’Or Special Mention: “Mongrel,” Chiang Wei Liang, You Qiao Yin

Short Film Palme d’Or: “The Man Who Could Not Remain Silent,” Nebojša Slijepčević

Short Film Special Mention: “Bad for a Moment,” Daniel Soares

Golden Eye Documentary Prize: “Ernest Cole: Lost and Found” and “The Brink of Dreams”

Queer Palm: “Three Kilometers to the End of the World”

Palme Dog: Kodi, “Palm Dog”

FIPRESCI Award (Competition): “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” Mohammad Rasoulof

FIPRESCI Award (Parallel Sections): “Desert of Namibia,” Yoko Yamanaka


Un Certain Regard Award: “Black Dog,” Guan Hu

Jury Prize: “The Story of Souleymane,” Boris Lojkine

Best Director Prize: (ex aequo) “The Damned,” Roberto Minervini; “On Becoming a Guinea Fowl,” Rungano Nyoni

Performance Awards: “The Shameless,” Anasuya Sengupta; “The Story of Souleymane,” Abou Sangare

Youth Prize: “Holy Cow! (Vingt Dieux),” Louise Courvoisier

Special Mention: “Norah,” Tawfik Alzaidi


Europa Cinemas Label: “The Other Way Around,” Jonás Trueba

Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: “This Life of Mine,” Sophie Fillières

Audience Choice Award: “Universal Language,” Matthew Rankin


Grand Prize: “Simon of the Mountain,” Federico Luis

French Touch Prize: “Blue Sun Palace,” Constance Tsang

GAN Foundation Award for Distribution: Jour2Fête, “Julie Keeps Quiet”

Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award: Ricardo Teodoro, “Baby”

Leitz Cine Discovery Prize (short film): “Guil Sela,” Montsouris Park

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