Cannes 2017: The Square wins the Palme d’Or

Ruben Östlund’s follow-up to Force Majeure wins the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, while Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here is honoured twice.

28 May 2017

By Henry Barnes

Ruben Östlund, winner of the 2017 Palme d'Or for The Square
Darren Brade

The Square, Ruben Östlund’s cutting satire of the world of modern art, has won one of the most prestigious prizes in contemporary culture: the Palme d’Or.

Östlund’s film stars the Danish actor Claes Bang as a gallery director who organises a performance art piece called The Square. Members of the public are invited to enter the space and told to behave responsibly. But the director’s own behaviour is tested when he becomes the victim of a mugging in another square, outside the gallery. Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss appears as a TV journalist, while The Wire’s Dominic West makes an appearance as a world-renowned artist.

In a year in which there was little consensus over which film would win the top prize, the Swedish director’s comedy-drama beat out some heavyweight competition, including new films from Michael Haneke, Yorgos Lanthimos and Lynne Ramsay. Ramsay’s film, a psychological drama called You Were Never Really Here, was awarded two prizes: a joint award for best screenplay (which she shared with Lanthimos) and best actor for Joaquin Phoenix, who plays a damaged ex-cop now working private security. The film, which was hailed as one of the highlights of this year’s Cannes, was backed with National Lottery funding through the BFI Film Fund.

You Were Never Really Here (2017) director Lynne Ramsay and the film's star Joaquin Phoenix

Cannes’s “second prize”, the Grand Prix, was awarded to Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats per Minute, a drama about French AIDs activists. Meanwhile, Pedro Almodóvar’s jury, which included the actors Will Smith and Jessica Chastain, gave the best director prize to Sofia Coppola for The Beguiled, a civil war drama about an injured Union soldier who seeks shelter in an all-female boarding school.

Diane Kruger was awarded best actress for her performance in Fatih Akin’s In the Fade. The Jury Prize was awarded to the Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev for his film Loveless, while the Camera d’Or for best debut feature went to French writer-director Léonor Sérraille for her film Montparnasse Bienvenue.

Competition winners

Palme d’Or

Ruben Östlund, The Square

Grand Prix

Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats Per Minute

Jury Prize

Andrey Zvyagintsev, Loveless

Camera d’Or

Léonor Sérraille, Montparnasse Bienvenue

Best director

Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled

Best screenplay tie:

Lynne Ramsay, You Were Never Really Here and Yorgos Lanthimos, The Killing of Sacred Deer

Best actress

Diane Kruger, In the Fade

Best actor

Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here

Short film

Qiu Yang, A Gentle Night

70th Anniversary Jury Prize

Nicole Kidman

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