Cannes Film Fest 1959: Year 12–Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus Wins Top Award; Simone Signoret, Best Actress (Room at the Top)

The twelfth Cannes Film Fest was held from April 30 to May 15, 1959.

The top award, the Palme d’Or went to Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) by Marcel Camus.

The festival opened with The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups), directed by François Truffaut, one of the leaders of the French New Wave,

It closed with the grim biopic, The Diary of Anne Frank, directed by George Stevens.

Jury Members

Gene Kelly was the only American on the jury, which again was largely composed of French figures.
Women were represented by the French actress Micheline Presle.
Marcel Achard (France) (president)
Antoni Bohdziewicz (Poland)
Michael Cacoyannis (Greece)
Carlos Cuenca (Spain)
Pierre Daninos (France)
Julien Duvivier (France)
Max Favalelli (France)
Gene Kelly (USA)
Carlo Ponti (Italy)
Micheline Presle (France)
Sergei Vasilyev (Soviet Union)
Philippe Agostini (France) (short films)
Antonin Brousil (Czechoslovakia) (short films)
Paula Talaskivi (Finland) (short films)
Jean Vivie (France) (CST official) (short films)
Véra Volmane (France) (journalist) (short films)

Feature Film Competition

  • Araya by Margot Benacerraf
  • Compulsion by Richard Fleischer
  • La Cucaracha by Ismael Rodríguez
  • The Diary of Anne Frank by George Stevens (US)
  • Édes Anna by Zoltán Fábri
  • Fanfare by Bert Haanstra
  • Fröken April by Göran Gentele
  • Die Halbzarte by Rolf Thiele
  • Helden by Franz Peter Wirth
  • Hiroshima Mon Amour by Alain Resnais
  • Jakten by Erik Løchen
  • Kriegsgericht by Kurt Meisel
  • Lajwanti by Narendra Suri
  • Luna de Miel by Michael Powell
  • Matomeno iliovasilemma by Andreas Labrinos
  • Middle of the Night by Delbert Mann (US)
  • Nazarín by Luis Buñuel
  • Orfeu Negro by Marcel Camus
  • Otchiy dom by Lev Kulidzhanov
  • Policarpo, ufficiale di scrittura by Mario Soldati
  • Les Quatre Cents Coups by François Truffaut
  • Rapsódia Portuguesa by João Mendes
  • Room at the Top y Jack Clayton (UK)
  • Sen noci svatojanske by Jiří Trnka
  • Shirasagi by Teinosuke Kinugasa
  • Sterne by Konrad Wolf
  • Tang fu yu sheng nu by Tien Shen
  • Touha by Vojtěch Jasný
  • Vlak bez voznog reda by Veljko Bulajić
  • Zafra by Lucas Demare


  • Palme d’Or: Orfeu Negro by Marcel Camus
  • Grand Prize of the Jury: Stars by Konrad Wolf
  • International Prize: Nazarín by Luis Buñuel
  • Best Actor: Ensemble–Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman, and Orson Welles for Compulsion
  • Best Actress: Simone Signoret, Room at the Top
  • Best Director: François Truffaut for Les Quatre Cents Coups
  • Special Mention: Shirasagi by Teinosuke Kinugasa
  • Technical Grand Prize: Luna de Miel
  • Short Film Palme d’O:
    • N.Y., N.Y. by Francis Thompson
    • Zmiana warty by Halina Bielińska and Wlodzimierz Haupe
  • Best Selection – Short Film: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Jiří Trnka
  • Best Selection: Touha by Vojtěch Jasný
  • Best Hommage: La Mer et les jour by Alain Kaminker
  • Best Comedy: Policarpo, ufficiale di scrittura by Mario Soldati
  • OCIC Award: Les Quatre Cents Coups by François Truffaut
  • Hiroshima, Mon Amour by Alain Resnais was later excluded from the official selection in order to avoid upsetting the American government, as the atomic bombs were considered a taboo subject of discussion at that time.