Sean Baker’s ‘Anora’ Wins Palme d’Or at Cannes

Sean Baker’s ‘Anora’ Wins Palme d’Or at Cannes
The first American film to win the prestigious prize at the Cannes Film Festival since 2011 It was clear that Sean Baker’s Anora was a frontrunner for the top prize at Cannes, the Palme d’Or, from the time it premiered; everywhere you went at the festival, people were buzzing about Anora. This comedy-drama, directed and written by Sean Baker, stars actress Mikey Madison in the titular role as an exotic dancer. Her romance with the son of a Russian oligarch – which leads to an elopement – has twists and turns, and it gripped audiences during the festival. Anora is the first American film to win the Palme d’Or since 2011’s The Tree of Life. Sean Baker, Director of Anora, at 2024 Cannes Film Festival closing ceremony. Photo: Arielaortizb / Wikimedia commons The Cannes Film Festival has many prizes, so even though Anora won the top prize, other filmmakers and film talent didn’t go home empty-handed. The Grand Prix went to All We Imagine as Light from director Payal Kapadia (Kapadia also wrote the film). The film received an 8-minute standing ovation after it premiered. The Jury Prize at Cannes went to musical-crime-comedy film Emilia Pérez, a much-buzzed-about film with an all-star cast, including Selena Gomez and Zoe Saldaña. The film was written and directed by French director Jacques Audiard. Speaking of all-star casts, the prize for Best Performance by an Actor went to American actor Jesse Plemons for his turn in the star-studded Kinds of Kindness, which featured Plemons alongside Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Joe Alwyn, and more. Kinds of Kindness was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, whose film Poor Things took home four Oscars this year. In the category of Best Performance by an Actress, multiple actresses won for their work in Emilia Pérez, including Adriana Paz, Zoe Saldaña, Karla Sofía Gascón, and Selena Gomez. Other female-centered stories, like Anora and Emilia Pérez, captured the interest of Cannes audiences, including fan-favorite, The Substance, starring Demi Moore. The horror film stars Moore, Margaret Qualley, and Dennis Quaid, and the film took home the award for Best Screenplay. It was written and directed by Coralie Fargeat. In the Un Certain Regard category, the Jury Prize went to L’Histoire de Souleymane, a gripping story about a 20-something refugee from Guinea trying to survive in Paris while working as a bicycle food delivery person and trying to secure asylum in France. The actor in the title role, Abou Sangare, took home the prize for Best Actor, deservedly so. His performance was so powerful and moving; after the film’s premiere, there wasn’t a dry eye in the theater. The Un Certain Regard Prize went to Black Dog from director Guan Hu. “L’Histoire de Souleymane,” starring Abou Sangaré, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Anne McCarthy Outside of the festival’s closing ceremony, there were other buzzy moments. The 77th Cannes Film Festival welcomed thousands of festival-goers amid a bustling and exciting festival that honored film industry greats, like actress Meryl Streep, and Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli. Both Streep and the famed studio received Honorary Palme d’Or awards for their indelible marks on cinema. Studio Ghibli is best known for its groundbreaking films like The Boy and the Heron, Spirited Away, and Castle in the Sky.

Lead photo credit : Anora, written and directed by Sean Baker

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Anne McCarthy is a contributing writer to BBC News, Teen Vogue, The Telegraph, Dance Magazine, and more. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster and is the Editor in Chief of Fat Tire Tours’ travel blog. She lives in New York City.