Cannes Film Fest 2019: Labaki’s Jury Spreads Un Certain Regard Prizes

Brazilian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz was the big winner in tonight’s Un Certain Regard awards, when his well acted melodrama The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão received the top prize from jury president Nadine Labaki.

The “Capernaum” director and her fellow jurors demonstrated eclectic taste in the ceremony, ultimately handing honors to 8 of the 18 feature films competing in the festival’s second most high-profile showcase.

Aïnouz was a popular winner in the room, as his lushly shot drama–about two devoted sisters separated by crossed stars and familial shame in 1950s Rio de Janeiro–appealed to audiences with its openly emotive traditional storytelling and strong feminist politics.

It’s the seventh feature by the 53-year-old writer-director, who previously competed in Un Certain Regard with his debut, Madame Sata, in 2002.  In his speech, he alluded to Brazil’s current political woes, thanking the jury for their recognition while “we are going through something that is very, very hard, to do with intolerance.”

Eurídice Gusmão, which is seeking U.S. distribution, will be considered a strong contender for Brazil’s international Oscar submission.

Fire Will Come

The runner-up Jury Prize was given to French-born Galician filmmaker Oliver Laxe for Fire Will Come, a pastoral parable set in the director’s parents’ homeland, following a convicted arsonist settling back into rural life after his release from prison.

Laxe previously won the Cannes Fest Critics’ Week competition for his 2016 debut feature Mimosas.  This follow-up was one of the most ecstatically received in the program.

Another critical favorite, Russian filmmaker Kantemir Balagov’s sophomore effort Beanpole, received the Best Director prize.  It’s a harrowing drama, about two young women rebuilding their lives in post-WWII Leningrad.

A special award, the Coup de Coeur, was shared between two titles, Quebecois filmmaker Monia Chokri’s A Brother’s Love, which opened the program to mixed reviews, and U.S. writer-director-actor Michael Angelo Covino’s The Climb, a well-received comedic study of troubled male friendship. Sony Pictures Classics has picked up The Climb for U.S. distribution.

Two divisive films from widely revered auteurs were recognized. Spanish formalist Albert Serra disappointed with his period provocation Liberté, received a special jury prize.  An explicitly chronicle of a debauched overnight orgy between 18th-century libertines in the French countryside, the film features graphic penetration, S&M and urolagnia–it saw multiple walkouts during its premiere.

A special jury mention, meanwhile, went to French veteran Bruno Dumont’s “Joan of Arc,” the second part of his experimental semi-musical biopic of the Maid of Orléans. Its predecessor, “Jeanette, The Childhood of Joan of Arc,” bowed in Directors’ Fortnight two years ago.

Chiara Mastroianni, daughter of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni, received the best performance award for her turn as a woman who leaves her husband after decades of marriage in Christophe Honoré’s comedy On a Magical Night.

Labaki’s fellow jurors included directors Lisandro Alonso and Lukas Dhont (an Un Certain Regard competitor last year for the transgender drama, Girl, French thesp Marina Foïs and German producer Nurhan Sekerci-Porst.

List of Winners:

Un Certain Regard Prize: “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão,” Karim Aïnouz

Jury Prize: “Fire Will Come,” Oliver Laxe

Best Director: Kantemir Balagov, “Beanpole”

Best Performance: Chiara Mastroianni, “On a Magical Night”

Special Jury Prize: Albert Serra, “Liberté”

Special Jury Mention: “Joan of Arc,” Bruno Dumont

Coup de Coeur Award: “A Brother’s Love,” Monia Chokri; “The Climb,” Michael Angelo Covino