Cannes: 'The Square' Wins the Palme d'Or

The Square - Cannes Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

Sofia Coppola becomes the second woman to ever win for best director, while Joaquin Phoenix and Diane Kruger earned acting honors.

The 70th annual Cannes Film Festival came to a close Sunday night with the main competition awards ceremony at the Palais des Festivals.

The Square, by Swedish writer-director Ruben Ostlund, won the top prize, the Palme d'Or. The satire — the follow-up to Ostlund's 2014 international hit Force Majeureexplores Swedish art, commerce, politics and national identity and stars Claes Bang and Elisabeth Moss.

The story centers on a man who is overseeing a new art installation called "The Square"  a sanctuary where anyone entering is supposed to abide by humanitarian values  but things quickly go awry.

When he took the stage to accept his award, Ostlund led the crowd in a "scream of happiness" and told photographers to turn their cameras away from him and toward the audience. He counted down, and the audience let out a massive scream. "I can direct you all now because I won this prize," he said.

Sofia Coppola became only the second woman to win the best director prize for her film The Beguiled, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell. Maren Ade accepted for Coppola, who was not present to receive her award. Ade ended the speech by thanking director Jane Campion for being a role model.

While Coppola was not present, she did release this statement: "I was thrilled to get this movie made and it's such an exciting start to be honored in Cannes. I'm thankful to my great team and cast and to Focus and Universal for their support of women-driven films."

The Grand Prix was awarded to 120 Beats per Minute by Robin Campillo, which follows 2013's Eastern Boys by mining his past as a member of AIDS activist group ACT UP in 1990s Paris.

Nicole Kidman was honored with a special prize for the festival's 70th anniversary. The actress appeared in competition projects The Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Beguiled, along with the second season of Jane Campion's Top of the Lake and the film How to Talk to Girls at Parties. Will Smith accepted the award in her absence, and a special video message from Kidman was presented.

Joaquin Phoenix was awarded the best actor prize for Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here. The actor stars as a hitman trying to save a teen prostitute.

Diane Kruger received the best actress award for her work in In the Fade. Fatih Akin's courtroom and revenge drama saw the German actress doing a German-language film for the first time.

In her speech, Kruger dedicated her award to victims of terror. "Those trying to pick up the pieces and go on after having lost everything, please know you are not alone," she said.

Loveless, helmed by Russian writer-director Andrey Zvyagintsev, took the jury prize.

In a surprise twist, best screenplay was awarded to both Killing of a Sacred Deer (written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou) and Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here.

The Palme d'Or for short film was given to A Gentle Night from Chinese director Qiu Yang. A special mention for short film was awarded to Teppo Airaksinen for Katto.

The Camera d’Or, given to the best first film that played in the festival regardless of section, went to Leonor Serraille for Jeune Femme (Montparnasse-Bienvenüe).

Nineteen movies screened in competition this year. The jury included president Pedro Almodovar and members Smith, Jessica Chastain, Fan Bingbing, Agnès Jaoui, Park Chan-wook, Ade, Paolo Sorrentino and Gabriel Yared.