Who will receive the fickle Palme?

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Who will receive the fickle Palme?

The Palme d’Or is the highest prize awarded to competing films at the Cannes Film Festival. The highest prize was simply called the Grand Prix until 1954. The Palme d’Or appeared in 1955 with a new design of a palm, the symbol of the city of Cannes.

Another theory holds that the Cannes Film Festival got started when the Biennial Venice Film Festival, which started in 1949, started to award the Golden Lion, and the Berlin International Film Festival started to award the Golden Bear in 1952.

The winners at the Cannes Film Festival this year will be announced on May 24.

What needs to be done to win the highest prize, the Palme d’Or? The film festival requests reputable filmmakers around the world submit their work each year, and only a selected few are included in the competition to win the highest prize. Twenty films are competing for it this year. Korean director Park Chan-wook’s “Thirst” is one of the candidates, but Bong Joon-ho’s “Mother” is not.

It’s also well known that the Cannes Film Festival prioritizes artistry over commercial success. In fact there is no way commercial performance can play a role, because most of the films have not been seen at all by the general public. On top of that, all of the judges change every year, so there is no standard or expected result.

Therefore, who the judges are is very important each year. Many believe, for example, that if Quentin Tarantino, that lover of old-fashioned blood and guts, had not been a judge at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, Park Chan-wook’s “Old Boy” would not have won the Grand Prix, the runner-up prize at the festival.

Of course, one must not overestimate the influence of a judge’s particular style, either. When director David Lynch of “Twin Peaks” became a judge in 2002, most predicted a surrealist film would win the highest prize, but it was unexpectedly awarded to the quiet war epic by Roman Polanski, “The Pianist.”

As Korean actor Song Gang-ho once said in an interview, a film festival is not the Olympics, so there is no need to be too attached to whether or not a film wins the gold medal, or the Palme d’Or. And history shows that the Palme d’Or is not decided based only on films released in that one year, either.

It is the established custom at Cannes to give awards to directors with great accomplishments in their past, even if at a later date. Not many people pick out “Kagemusha” as one of the greatest films by director Akira Kurosawa, who was practically a Japanese national treasure, but the Cannes Film Festival presented the 70-year-old veteran with the Palme d’Or for this piece in 1980.

It was almost as if the festival was saying, “We apologize for not giving you an award all these years.”


The writer is a team manager at JES Entertainment.

By Song Won-sup [five@joongang.co.kr]

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