Spike Lee Makes Major Cannes Flub During Festival Winner Announcement

The Cannes International Film Festival ended on Saturday morning with more drama than anticipated after jury head Spike Lee revealed the winner of the top award, the prestigious Palme d’Or, far earlier than planned. Usually, the award is announced at the end of the closing ceremony, but the filmmaker jumped the gun, excitedly announcing that Julia Ducournau’s Titane won the award. Ducournau became the second female filmmaker to win the award, but the first to win without a tie.

Lee announced Titane’s victory as the first award of the night when he was supposed to announce Caleb Landry Jones won Best Actor for Nitram. The show then proceeded as planned, so Lee got a second chance to officially name Titane the Palme winner. “In my 63 years of life, I’ve learned people get a second chance. So this is my second chance. I apologize for messing up. It took a lot of suspense out of the night,” Lee said towards the end of the ceremony, reports Indiewire.

On a frôlé la catastrophe et une annonce un peu prématurée de la Palme d’or 😱 #Cannes2021 pic.twitter.com/8uBfYl2orI

— CANAL (@canalplus) July 17, 2021

During the press conference afterward, Lee admitted he made a mistake, saying he had no excuses. Thankfully for him, the Cannes organizers aren’t too upset. “I have no excuses. I messed up. I’m a big sports fan. It’s like the guy at the end of the game in the foul line, he misses the free throw, or a guy misses a kick,” the Do the Right Thing director said. “So no apologies… I was very specific to speak to the people of Cannes and tell them that I apologize. They said [to] forget about it.”

Titane is just the second film directed by a woman to win the Palme d’Or and first since Jane Campion’s The Piano won in 1993. However, Campion’s film shared the award with Farewell My Concubine, directed by Chen Kaige. Australian filmmaker Jessica Hauser, who served on the 2021 jury with Lee, told reporters later that the historic significance of Ducounau’s win “never came up” until after they decided to give Titane the top prize.

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The second prize award, the Grand Prix, went to Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No. 6 and Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero. The Jury Prize was also a tie, going to Nadav Lapid’s Ahed’s Knee and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria. Leos Carax won Best Director for Annette and Renate Reinsve won Best Actress for The Worst Person in the World. Ryusuke Hamaguchi & Takamasa Oe won Best Screenplay for Drive My Car.

Titane is a violent serial killer drama that has won critical acclaim since its debut at Cannes. The film will be distributed by Neon in the U.S. Ducournau first gained international recognition for her 2016 body horror film Raw, which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

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