“Dheepan,” a French film about Sri Lankan refugees working for a new life in France, claimed the Palme d'Or -- the top honor at the Cannes Film Festival -- Sunday night. “Dheepan,” which was selected from 19 films in the competition, was an unexpected choice, and its announcement was greeted with a mix of boos and applause, Variety reported.
Directed by filmmaker Jacques Audiard, the movie follows the story of a former Sri Lankan civil war fighter who assembles a fake family and seeks a new life in Paris. Audiard took the runner-up prize at Cannes five years ago for his film “A Prophet.”
The jury was led by directors Joel and Ethan Coen, who praised the film. “This isn’t a jury of film critics. This is a jury of artists looking at the work,” Joel Coen said. Ethan Coen added, “We all thought it was a beautiful movie.”
Other jury members included British actress Sienna Miller, American actor Jake Gyllenhaal and Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.
The second-place award, known as the Grand Prix, went to the Holocaust drama “Son of Saul,” the directorial debut of Laszlo Nemes of Hungary. The third-place “Jury Prize” was awarded to “Lobster,” a film by Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthumos.
The best actress prize was shared by American actress Rooney Mara for her role in “Carol” and French actress Emmanuelle Bercot in “Mon Roi.” Veteran French actor Vincent London claimed the best actor award for his role in “The Measure Of A Man.”
Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien won the award for best director for his martial arts movie “The Assasin.”
The jury also awarded French director Agnes Varda an honorary Palme d’Or -- the first woman to receive the honor. The honorary award has been given out just three times in the past to directors Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Bernardo Bertolucci.
The Cannes Film Festival is held each May in Cannes, France, and is considered one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.