In 1997, “Télérama” was enthusiastic about the very sharp prize list of the Cannes Film Festival

IN THE TELERAMA ARCHIVES – Abbas Kiarostami, Shobei Imamura, Youssef Chahine, Manuel Poirier… In 1997, the jury of the Cannes Film Festival presided over by Isabelle Adjani delivers a demanding list, distinguishing authors expressing a singular vision of the world and cinema. Flashback.

This list will stand out. Under the so-called meticulous authority of President Isabelle Adjani, demanding jurors displayed a bias that was no less so: without the slightest concession to diplomacy or commercial arguments, they singled out the authors, the real ones, those who build a film-to-film work, who express a singular vision of the world and of cinema. Often at their own risk. This is particularly striking for the major trio of winners: Abbas Kiarostami, Shohei Imamura (Palme d’or ex aequo) and Youssef Chahine (Prix du fiftieth Festival).

The very presence of the Iranian Kiarostami in competition was in itself an event. A victory against the “hardliners” of Tehran, who had retained The Taste of Cherry until the last moment, on the pretext that suicide – the central theme of the film – is, it seems, a taboo subject in the local censorship code. The answer to this ridiculous Ayatollesque pretext is this very elaborate film in the purity, where the unspeakable torments of a man who wants to end his life are approached with a constant dignity, while the reflection develops without s imposing, open, with a poetic simplicity.

In a way, the spontaneous ovation given to Youssef Chahine when the winners were announced constituted a triple tribute. To a profuse work, first, begun forty-seven years ago. To the film presented this year, then, this Fate shimmering, invigorating, where the inspiration of the filmmaker appeared to be regenerated, and for the best of causes: the call for tolerance. Tribute, finally, to the fight that the tireless man has been leading for ages in his country, Egypt, against censors of all stripes, for a cinema that lives, moves and makes people love life.

It is not sure that with Eel Shohei Imamura has signed a masterpiece. We are even certain of the contrary. From the opening sequence, we guess that the adventures to come should not be taken too seriously. When the hero stabs his wife, who cheats on him, blood spurts everywhere, including on the camera lens. We could not announce the color better: fanciful audacity will be an essential ingredient of the game. Like this eel which our man will make his most faithful companion, like all these agitated zigotos which populate the decoration, like this Japanese mamma who takes herself for a queen of flamenco. Imamura is amused by the heterogeneous situations he creates, where he confuses genres in a kind of somewhat wobbly, but rather “inflated” catch-all. We can suppose that this Palme which had escaped him in 1989 for a film otherwise important, black rainrewards his unusual position in the competition: he was elsewhere, against the current of the ambient darkness.

One would look in vain for some glaring misstep in this list. It is well deserved, the award given to Manuel Poirier and his exciting Western. In his fourth film, this radically “personal” author, attached to only directing what he knows, the “little people”, and filming them like no one else, takes a decisive step. We would also have liked one of the most original films in the selection, beautiful tomorrows, of the Canadian Atom Egoyan (see Telerama of last week), be distinguished with more brilliance. But, ultimately, the Grand Prix, crowning a film which invents, which innovates, suits it well. As for the Directing Prize, awarded to Wong Kar-wai for happy together, it could not be more judicious: the Chinese from Hong Kong is indeed one of the most inventive stylists of the moment.

It remains to be hoped that this “sharp” prize list will give a wider audience the desire to discover important but still quite confidential filmmakers. So, this fiftieth anniversary would really be a milestone…


Palme d’Or
Ex aequo : The Taste of Cherry, by Abbas Kiarostami (Iran); and Eelby Shohei Imamura (Japan)
50th Cannes Film Festival Prize
Youssef Chahine for Destiny (Egypt) and all of his work
Grand Jury Prize
Beautiful tomorrowsby Atom Egoyan (Canada)
happy togetherby Wong Kar-wai (Hong Kong)
Best Actress
Kathy Burke in Do not swallowby Gary Oldman (Great Britain)
Best actor
Sean Penn in She’s so lovelyby Nick Cassavetes (USA)
Best Screenplay
James Schamus for icestormby Ang Lee (USA)
Jury Prize
Westernby Manuel Poirier (France)
Short Film Palme d’Or
Is it the design on the wrapper?by Tessa Sheridan (Great Britain)
Jury Prize for Short Film
Leonie, by Lieven Debrauwer (Belgium); and Vacationsby Emmanuelle Bercot (France)
golden camera
Suzakuby Naomi Kawase (Japan)
Mention Camera d’or
The Life of Jesusby Bruno Dumont (France)
Technical Higher Commission Award
Thierry Arbogast, chief operator of the Fifth ElementLuc Besson (France), and She’s so lovely
Prix ​​Gervais / Un certain regard
Marius and Jeannetteby Robert Guédiguian (France)
Cannes Junior Prize
The Perfect Circleby Ademir Kenovic (Bosnia)
Youth Prize
I hate loveby Laurence Ferreira Barbosa (France); bentby Sean Mathias (Great Britain)

Article published in the Telerama No. 2472 of May 28, 1997.

We would like to say thanks to the writer of this post for this awesome web content

In 1997, “Télérama” was enthusiastic about the very sharp prize list of the Cannes Film Festival