Cannes 2018 was strange affair, punctuated by controversy (the refusal to screen Netflix films unless they were guaranteed cinema exhibition, and the march up the red carpet by 80 or so women, lead by Kate Blanchett, head of this year’s jury, to complain that Cannes had far too few women film-makers this year or any other). Add to that a less than vintage programme and fewer people braving the expense of a Cannes visit, and you have a Festival which looks a bit uneasier in its skin than for some time past. Even so it would be foolish not to admit that the Festival, 71 this year, is attempting to adapt to changing times and likely in the end to do so successfully.
Not many expected Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifting to win the Palme D’0r. But this Japanese director, a regular at Cannes and one of the best film-makers in the world, surely deserved the honour, even if several other competitors would have deserved it too. Shoplifting is about a group of petty criminals living on the loose in Tokyo who adopt a little orphan girl and teach her their shoplifting trade. The film’s chief point is that this posse of outcasts live happier, more fulfilled lives than those from whom they steal—an unusual moral that the director, through the sheer humanity and skill of his film-making, makes thoroughly convincing.
The Grand Prix, nominally the second prize, went to Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, the fictionalised story of how a black American managed to filter his way past the KKK to provide the American Government with vital ammunition. It is one of this director’s most commercial thrillers which displays a fast pace, and a sense of humour as well as anger. Chiefly, though, it parallels the Trump era pretty precisely, which is presumably why the jury liked it so much.