Turkish film tipped for top prize at Cannes

Palme d’Or ceremony brought forward to avoid clash with Euro election results

Jury members – Korean actress Jeon Do-yeon, US director Sofia Coppola, New Zealand director Jane Campion, Iranian actress Leila Hatami and French actress Carole Bouquet – arrive for the screening of Futatsume No Mado during the Cannes Film Festival in France. Photograph: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA

Jury members – Korean actress Jeon Do-yeon, US director Sofia Coppola, New Zealand director Jane Campion, Iranian actress Leila Hatami and French actress Carole Bouquet – arrive for the screening of Futatsume No Mado during the Cannes Film Festival in France. Photograph: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA

 

There’s a slight sense of bewilderment on the streets of Cannes as the jury, headed by Jane Campion, prepares to announce the winner of the Palme d’Or this evening. The most prestigious prize in the film calendar aside from the Oscar is usually awarded on the last Sunday of the festival, but, fearful of clashes with European election results, the organisers have moved the ceremony back a day.

Following an official competition that was strong, but not up to the superlative standards of 2013, no clear favourite has emerged from the pack. Most punters, however, give a very slight edge to Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s epic Winter Sleeps. The Turkish film, clocking in at 3¼ hours, received consistently strong reviews when it screened here last Friday, but even the director’s most ardent fans were taken aback by the piece’s stunningly glacial pace. Contenders

Other films seen as contenders include Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, a study of painter JM W Turner, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan, a grim Russian state-of-the-nation address, and Abderrahmane Sissako’s Mauritanian drama Timbuktu. Ken Loach’s Jimmy’s Hall, set in Leitrim during the 1930s, received respectful reviews, but does not look like a serious contender for major prizes.

In the closing few days, headlines were made by the youngest and the oldest directors in the competition. Critics swooning

The French-Canadian tyro Xavier Dolan, just 25, had critics swooning in the aisles over his innovative drama Mommy. Should the jury take the plunge, he would become the youngest director to win the prize outright (Louis Malle, then a few months younger, shared the Palme d’Or with Jacques Cousteau in 1956.)

The legendary Jean-Luc Godard, who has never won at Cannes, astonished observers with a characteristically jarring experimental piece entitled Goodbye to Language. Only a lunatic would use the word “accessible” in its vicinity, but the stunning use of 3D – at one stage different images are delivered to either eye – set audiences back in their seats.

It is not out of the question that, at 83, he might finally find a Palme d’Or resting on his mantelpiece.

Mr Godard will be have been disappointed to see his own dog, Roxy Mieville, finish second in the race for the coveted Palm Dog. The bejewelled collar, awarded for best canine performance, was presented to Labrador cross Body, star of Hungarian drama White God, on Friday.

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