Andrea Arnold’s American Honey wins Jury Prize at Cannes 69

By Moira Sullivan

Andrea Arnold wins Jury Prize at Cannes for 'American Honey' (Festival de Cannes) 

It’s hard to believe that 11 days of the 69th Cannes Film Festival have come to an end. The event is a whirlwind of activity from the moment I entered the Palais des Festivals on the first day. I can assure you that journalists are taken well care of – the accreditation badge is a door opener to all the facilities on the grounds and even in town the badge is met with respect. It’s impossible to do everything so the object is to dive in and make a splash. There are excellent media facilities on the premises and each accredited journalist has their own login that is kept separate from others. 

For the past three years, Movie Magazine International  has been a blue card journalist with a mailbox - meaning I get in to all of the screenings except for the red carpet events which require an invitation –which I could ask for -  and the press conferences. There are only 50 seats at these and the daily press has first priority.

First of all, the Palme d’or announced by George Miller assisted by 'Mad Max' Mel Gibson went to a deserving film because of its message. The festival doesn’t usually stand for a message but this jury chose a film that is vital and important today. The 80-year-old British filmmaker Ken Loach took home the top honor for I, Daniel Blake, a film about a middle aged carpenter who suffers a heart attack and is ordered to not work by his doctor. During this time, he must report for unemployment insurance and a case worker decides if he’s fit for work even with his doctor’s excuse. Daniel looks for work but can’t accept just anything on doctor’s orders and must put his CV online. Without any computer skills he is at a loss. The inhumanity of social services with a bureaucratic and rigid process of looking for work is not only evident in GB but around the world. In fact, Loach makes the point that it is the disenfranchised who have the most to lose with austerity programs and reported that in GB only 0.5% of the population are on social programs. A larger point of view is that land and housing are being sold and speculated and forcing people out of their homes. In Monaco, which I visited on this trip,  the entire apartment area beneath the Royal Palace is for sale as condos. Loach said at the press conference that the globalization of neoliberal policies has resulted in an impoverished class that allows the far right to take advantage of them as witnessed in France and in GB and in particular with the appeal of a political candidate for president who made it rich on real estate. George Miller and the jury of the 69th Cannes film festival has given us a wonderful gift with this choice. 

Elsewhere to be commended is their selection of Andrea Arnold’s "American Honey" from the UK for the Jury Prize –a film about young people who travel in caravans selling phony magazine subscriptions. The tactile way the film is made with an extraordinary mobile camera capturing the essence of the joy and despair of youth in working class America was my personal favorite. Male critics didn’t like this girl’s journey.

Jean Pierre Léaud was given the 'Palme of Honor' for his life work. I visited the Jean Cocteau museum in Menton as well on this trip and I forget he plays a character in "The Testament of Orpheus". Also noteworthy is his role in Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris" as the boyfriend of Maria Schneider who frames everything with his hands as a filmmaker. At this festival he played the Sun King in "The Death of Louis XIV" and the film is one of the great films this year about his death done in a contemplative treatise by Erica Serra.  

Jodie Foster came and went with "Money Monster" that she feels is a thinking sort of film and was the first speaker at the Kering T

alks about women in film. These were also set up with Juliette Binoche, Geena Davis, Salma Hayak and Juliette Binoche. It seems that the same industry that makes money off of women with fashion and makeup is promoting this discussion and their motives are somewhat questionable.


© 2016 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 05/22/16
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