Cannes Film Fest 1986: History and Memory

Cannes_1986_posterThe 39th Cannes Film Festival, my third edition, was held on May 8-19, 1986.

More than anything else, I recall that it was defined by boos from critics and audiences.

The festival opened with “Pirates,” one of the worst films directed by the otherwise great Roman Polanski, and easily one of the least favorable choices for opening night.

And when the grand jury, presided by Sydney Pollack, announced that the Palme d’Or goes to the “The Mission,” by Roland Joffé, there were more boos.

The jury was obviously divided as for the first time there were ties in both the Best Actor and Best Actress prizes (see below).

The closing night, “El Amor brujo,” directed by Spaniard Carlos Saura, was received better, though critics were divided.

the_Mission_2Jim Jarmusch

After scoring with his stunning feature debut, Jim Jarmusch was “promoted” to the main competition with his more elaborate  sophomore, “Down by Law,” which, among other things, introduced to international viewers the charm of the Italian actor Roberto Benigni (future Oscar winner for “Life Is Beautiful”).

Personal Favorites:

“The Sacrifice,” which turned out to be the last movie from the brilliant Russian director Tarkovsky.

Social Scene:

Bogdanovich’s comeback, “Mask,” was well received, though by the time they got to Cannes, the director and his star, Cher, were not on speaking terms.

Most Touching (if Sentimental) Film:

“The Official Story” from Argentina, which went on to win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar


In Competition (from A to Z)

After Hours by Martin Scorsese

Boris Godunov by Sergei Bondarchuk

Die Geduld der Rosa Luxemburg by Margarethe von Trotta

Down by Law by Jim Jarmusch

Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar by Arnaldo Jabor

Fool for Love by Robert Altman

Genesis by Mrinal Sen

I Love You by Marco Ferreri

La dernière image by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina

Le lieu du crime by André Téchiné

Max, Mon Amour by Nagisa Oshima

The Mission by Roland Joffé

Mona Lisa by Neil Jordan

Offret by Andrei Tarkovsky

Otello by Franco Zeffirelli

Pobre mariposa by Raúl de la Torre

Runaway Train by Andrei Konchalovsky

Tenue de soirée by Bertrand Blier

The Fringe Dwellers by Bruce Beresford

Thérèse by Alain Cavalier


Un Certain Regard and Shorts

A Girl’s Own Story by Jane Campion

Backlash by Bill Bennett

Belizaire the Cajun by Glen Pitre

Burke & Wills by Graeme Clifford

Coming Up Roses by Stephen Bayly

Das zweite Schraube-Fragment by Walter Andreas Christen

Desert Bloom by Eugene Corr

Krysař by Jiří Barta

Laputa by Helma Sanders-Brahms

Ningen no yakusoku by Yoshishige Yoshida

Passionless Moments by Jane Campion, Gerard Lee

Rih essed by Nouri Bouzid

Salome by Claude d’Anna

Shtei Etzbaot Mi’Tzidon by Eli Cohen

Tai Yang by Benzheng Yu

Tuntematon sotilas by Rauni Mollberg

Two Friends by Jane Campion

Welcome in Vienna by Axel Corti

Za kude putuvate by Rangel Vulchanov


Films Out of Competition

A Matter of Life and Death (Restored) by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Absolute Beginners by Julien Temple

Don Quixote by Orson Welles

The Chipmunk Adventure by Janice Karman

El Amor brujo by Carlos Saura

Hannah and Her Sisters by Woody Allen

Pirates by Roman Polanski

Precious Images by Chuck Workman

T’as de beaux escaliers tu sais by Agnès Varda

The Color Purple by Steven Spielberg

Un homme et une femme, 20 ans déjà by Claude Lelouch



Sydney Pollack (President)

Alexandre Mnouchkine

Alexandre Trauner

Charles Aznavour

Danièle Thompson

István Szabó

Lino Brocka

Philip French

Sonia Braga

Tonino Delli Colli



Palme d’Or: The Mission by Roland Joffé

Grand Prix: Offret (The Sacrifice) by Andrei Tarkovsky

Jury Prize: Thérèse by Alain Cavalier

Best Actor: Tie

Bob Hoskins for Mona Lisa and Michel Blanc for Tenue de soirée

Best Actress: Tie

Fernanda Torres for Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar

Barbara Sukowa for Die Geduld der Rosa Luxemburg

Best Director: Martin Scorsese for After Hours

Short Film Palme d’Or: An Exercise in Discipline – Peel by Jane Campion

Best Artistic Contribution: Sven Nykvist (for the cinematography) for Offret

Technical Grand Prize: The Mission by Roland Joffé

Caméra d’Or: Noir et Blanc by Claire Devers

Un Certain Regard: Rih essed by Nouri Bouzid



Le déclin de l’empire américain by Denys Arcand

Offret by Andrei Tarkovsky

Prize of the Ecumenical Jury: Offret by Andrei Tarkovsky

Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention: Thérèse by Alain Cavalier

Award of the Youth:

Foreign Film: She’s Gotta Have It by Spike Lee

French Film: High Speed by Monique Dartonne and Michel Kaptur