Blue Is the Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adèle) – a sweeping drama about a French teenage girl’s love affair with another woman – receives the Palme d’Or at the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival. The film is written, produced, and directed by Tunisian-born Abdellatif Kechiche and adapted from Julie Maroh’s graphic novel.
In a history-making decision, the Steven Spielberg-led jury opts not only to give the first Palme d’Or to a gay romantic drama, but to present the accolade jointly to three artists: director Kechiche and French actresses Léa Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos.
Léa Seydoux is later cast as the female lead in Sam Mendez’ James Bond-film SPECTRE (2015).
With its 175-minute running time, the longest of any film in competition, and graphic lesbian sex scenes, Blue Is the Warmest Color dominates festival conversation. At a press conference following the ceremony, Steven Spielberg describes Kechiche’s film as “a great love story that made all of us feel privileged to be a fly on the wall, to see this story of deep love and deep heartbreak evolve from the beginning. The director didn’t put any constraints on the narrative. He let the scenes play in real life, and we were absolutely spellbound.”
At a time when the same sex marriage debate continues to rage across countries, Spielberg rejects the idea that politics has influenced the jury’s decision. “As you know, the characters in this film do not get married,” he said. “Politics were never in the room with us.” He also says that the decision to honor actresses Exarchopoulos and Seydoux alongside Kechiche was essential, noting that, “If the casting had been even 3% wrong, it wouldn’t have worked in the same way. All of us felt we needed to invite all three artists to the stage together.” Spielberg adds that while he expects the film to play well in the U.S., “I’m not sure it will be allowed to play in every state.”
In addition to Spielberg, the jury includes directors Ang Lee, Cristian Mungiu, Lynne Ramsay and Naomi Kawase, and actors Nicole Kidman, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Auteuil and Vidya Balan.
When asked about this year’s hard-fought Oscar campaign between Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (winning the Academy Award for Best Director), Lee comments: “Steven and I are good friends. I don’t know how he feels about me but I worship him. He’s my hero.“
Spielberg concurs, saying he and Lee “have never been competitors, we have always been colleagues. And that will just continue. And I worship Life of Pi so therefore I worship Ang Lee as well. (…) There is no campaigning here and that is a breath of fresh air for me.”
The jury’s Grand Prix goes to Inside Llewyn Davis, Joel and Ethan Coen’s musical comedy-drama about a downtrodden singer-guitarist from New York’s 1960s folk scene.