In a timely bit of social and political confluence, Blue Is the Warmest Colour, a French-produced romance drama from Tunisian-born director Abdellatif Kechiche won the coveted Palm d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The victory came just one week after the French government passed a bill that legalized gay marriage.
Starring Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, the film languidly traces the relationship between their characters from the heady first days of infatuation all the way through to their eventual disillusionment. The film does contain scenes of sexuality but it has mostly been praised for its emotionally revealing lead performances. Jury president Steven Spielberg: “For me, the film is a great love story and the fact that it’s a great love story made all of us feel like we were privileged, not embarrassed, to be flies on the wall”.
Also in competition was Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, which focused on a very different same-sex relationship. It seems almost appropriate that these dramas have found success at this time, and it hopefully signals a sea-change for films that deal with LGBT themes or characters. Even in 2013, most gay cinema is still ghetto-ised in the straight-to-DVD market, where they’re afforded very little mainstream exposure. It’s only a matter of time before films like Blue is the Warmest Colour won’t even be referred to as ‘The Lesbian Movie‘.
In other parts of the competition, the Coen Brothers’ latest film Inside Llewyn Davis won the Grand Prix; the Camera d’Or prize for debut film was won by Singaporean director Anthony Chen for his film Ilo Ilo; Mexico’s Amat Escalante was named Best Director for Heli; Bérénice Bejo won Best Actress for Le Passé (The Past); and veteran American actor Bruce Dern win Best Actor for his role in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.