#MeToo Hits Cannes Closing Ceremony With a Fury

Posted May 19, 2018 5:28 p.m. EDT

CANNES, France — Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda won the Palme d’Or at the 71st Cannes Film Festival for his superb “Shoplifters,” about a family of thieves and throwaways living on the margins in Japan.

Kore-eda accepted the award, the festival’s highest honor, at the end of a sober event that was shaken up 30 minutes in when Italian director Asia Argento delivered a shattering rebuke to the festival and the movie industry from the stage.

“In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground,” Argento said. She predicted he would never again be welcomed here by a film community that once embraced and enabled him.

The fierce, unwavering Argento added that there were those in the auditorium who needed to be held accountable for their conduct toward women. “You know who you are,” she said, “but, most importantly, we know who you are, and we are not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.”

The stunned audience responded with subdued applause. It was a powerful moment that came a week after 82 women — representing the small number of films by female directors that have competed in the festival over the years — rallied on the red carpet to denounce gender inequality in the industry.

Spike Lee won the Grand Prix, the festival’s second prize, for “BlacKkKlansman,” a galvanizing drama based on the strange, true-life story of a black detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s and is also an indictment of President Donald Trump. Lee has received some of the strongest reviews of his recent career for the movie.

As he accepted his award, he said that when journalists ask him about today’s political climate he invokes the title of Peter Weir’s film “The Year of Living Dangerously.”

The female-dominated jury for the main competition was led by Australian actress Cate Blanchett. For the first time in the festival’s history, the jury presented a Special Palme d’Or, which was given to Jean-Luc Godard, for his film “The Image Book.” Blanchett praised the movie for “stretching the boundaries” of the art form and “defining and redefining cinema.” Godard was not present.

The Jury Prize — the third prize — was given to “Capharnaüm,” a story about a neglected 12-year-old boy from Lebanese director Nadine Labaki. Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski won best director, for “Cold War,” which follows two lovers from the end of World War II into the 1960s across countries and shifting political realities.

The screenplay award was shared by Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s “Happy as Lazzaro” and Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s “3 Faces.” Both Panahi and Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov had been banned from attending by their countries.

Samal Yeslyamova won best actress for her title performance in Sergey Dvortsevoy’s tough, sometimes harrowing nail-biter “Ayka.” The best actor prize was given to Marcello Fonte, who starred in Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman.” Fonte rather charmingly seemed reluctant to accept the prize, but, encouraged by the presenters, finally relented. It was one of the few lighthearted moments in a festival that will remembered less for its prizes than the politics that one woman after another brought to the festival, on the red carpet and off.