Sunday, May 24, 2015

6th Queer Palm Award Winners

Last night organizers had their award ceremony at Silencio and as I was expecting with a 100% female jury, winner had to go to a lesbian interest film. So, surprise: IT DID! ... for the first time ever in the short history of this award that always had primordially gay men and straight women as their jurors until this year. That's one of the reasons why Palme d'Or winner for film and the two main actresses, La Vie d'Adele didn't won the Queer Palm that went to Stranger by the Lake.

As a matter of fact last night was talking with friends who asked what's happening with this award as seems this year organizers had some troubles like not having up an award site and using the facebook page to post news plus have award sponsors with some light coverage. I have no idea what's going on but we conclude that award low profile will not allow them to grow, so maybe award has to disappear to reappear with a different organization behind. Still all this is us a bunch of cinema-lovers friends speculating about the Cannes queer award that in six years has not laid strong-enough bases to become similar to, let say, Berlin's Teddy Award. Sigh.

But let's celebrate this year award that went to what I consider a well-deserved film, Carol by Todd Haynes and a special mention that went to the last film to be added to list, The Lobster.  Also the short film Locas Perdidas by Ignacio Juricic Merillán won the short film Queer Palm.

The good news is that we are about to learn why The Lobster was added as well as more info about this year jury president thanks to Desiree Akhavan's statetement.

What makes a film queer? I always defined queer film as ones that humanizes queer characters. The incredible team that runs the Queer Palm told me their definition was “a story of people pushing against societal norms.” Either way, I struggled to find these qualities in some of the films under consideration for the queer palm. None of them felt gay enough.

In fact, the jury would like to give a special mention to THE LOBSTER. It doesn’t include a gay narrative, but with the dearth of overtly gay films at the festival, this film stood out as an allegory, poking fun at the absurd societal rules and regulations around mating.

Is it Cannes reluctance to program films with queer content, or do the leading directors in cinema shy away from telling queer stories because it would banish their work to the ghetto of the “gay film” niche? I think both are a bit true and for that reason it’s really important that an award like the queer palm exists to call attention to the films that broaden the definition of queer cinema and continue the legacy of the genre.

Last year, Xaver Dolan said the existence of the queer palm disgusts him. With all due respect, I have to disagree. I don’t see awards like these as dividing, but publicizing and calling attention to the existence of queer cinema. Queer cinema matters. It matters because through queer cinema I met my first gay friends and I received the only source of comfort I could find when I was coming out and trying to figure out what being gay meant for the rest of my life. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s important to say fuck you to stereotypes. If the label of “gay filmmaker” makes you cringe, devote yourself to redefining the term by making good gay films.

Most would agree that to be queer is to battle labels. We defy categorization. “labels are for cans” is what it said in the pin I got at my school’s gay straight alliance. Tonight, I’d like to speak in defense of labels.
Every time a good film step up to the label of queer, the perception of queer cinema transforms just a bit. Stranger by the Lake, Weekend, Pride- These are films that changed the face of queer cinema because they weren’t scared of the gay film ghetto.

The film we’ve chosen to award is more than a movie, it’s a moment in history. The first time a love story between two women was treated with the respect and significance of any other mainstream cinematic romance. For its heartbreaking performances, stunning mise-en-scene, and overall mastery of craft we are proud to award CAROL with the Queer Palm.

To say that I like jury president statement is an understatement; I find her clarity very luminous, specially in the very first paragraph. Think she nailed what's going on with this award as perhaps a LGBT award should go more to what she says: "humanizes queer characters" (in French: humanisaient et rendaient homages aux personnes et personnages “queer”) than to "a story of people pushing against societal norms" (in French: des histoires et des personnes qui vont volontairement à l’encontre des normes sociales). Will say no more. Sigh.

Winners are in *BLUE.

Feature Films

Main Competition
*Carol, Todd Haynes, USA and UK (L) - Queer Palm Winner
Marguerite et Julien, Valérie Donzelli, France
*The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece, UK, Ireland, Netherlands and France - Special Mention

Midnight Screenings
Amy, Asif Kapadia, UK (documentary)
Love, Gaspar Noé, France

Quinzaine des Réalisateurs
Dope, Rick Famuyiwa, USA (L)
Much Loved, Nabil Ayouch, Morocco and France
Mustang, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, France, Germany and Turkey

Semaine de la Critique
Les Deux amis, Louis Garrel, France
Ni le ciel, ni la terre (The Wakhan Front), Clément Cogitore, France and Belgium

De l'ombre il y a, Nathan Nicholovitch, France
Pauline s'arrache, Emilie Brisavoine, France (documentary)
La Vanité, Lionel Baier, Switzerland and France

Short Films
Le Repas Dominical (Sunday Lunch), Céline Devaux, France 13' - Short Films Competition
*Locas Perdidas (Lost Queens), Ignacio Juricic Merillán, Chile, 28' - Cinéfondation (G) - Short Film Queer Palm winner
Victor XX, Ian Garrido López, Spain, 20'- Cinéfondation
Kung Fury, David Sandberg, Sweden, 30' - Quinzaine
Rate Me, Fyzal Boulifa, UK, 15' - Quinzaine
The Fox Exploits the Tiger's Might, Lucky Kuswandi, Indonesia - Semaine (G)
Ramona, Andrei Cretulescu, Romania

As happens every year, there could be more feature and/or short films considered once they have been screened. This year social media is questioning the selection of some films, but after five years I know better to trust my research skills and LGBT radar, to help me discover the specific interest each film has -or does not-. As soon as I confirm will add the interest to each of the above films.

President: Desiree Akhavan, actress and director, USA
Ava Cahen, journalist, France
Elli Mastorou, journalist, Belgium
Nadia Turincev, producer, France
Laëtitia Eïdo, actress, France

The award ceremony will be on May 23 at 10pm at Silencio Club and the nightly event this year is called Vertigo. For the first time there will be a Queer Market on May 17 that will allow film professionals interested in LGBT themes to meet.


Today a new film was added to the Queer Palm selection and is none other than in competition The Lobster!  If you wish to read about this late addition go to the award facebook page here.

While the award site is still down, news were released via Yagg, that also sponsors the award. Believe that organizers wanted to shock everyone as there are some HUGE news for this year that will make no sense to many BUT -of course- makes a lot of sense for me: this year the jury is 100% female!!!

Logic says that IF there are only females in the jury, the award SHOULD go to a lesbian interest film; which will a FIRST in the Queer Palm short history as ALL Queer Palms has been given to gay interest films. Sigh. Unfortunately I know my reasoning is just wishful thinking as jury members cinema professionalism will prevail, sigh.

Nevertheless there is still a possibility that a film by Todd Haynes gets the award, the only issue stopping the probabilities is the story as IF remains loyal to book, then does not reflect the objectives of the award.

The Queer Palm poster this year showcases jury member Laëtitia Eïdo along with Christophe Paou, we saw him in L’Inconnu du lac, and Sandor Funtek, who was in La Vie d’Adèle. Nicolas Menu took the quite nice photo.

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