Sean Baker’s ‘Anora’ wins the Palme d’Or in Cannes

Palme d’Or winner Sean Baker 

Director Sean Baker’s bawdy yet charmingly funny tale of a New York City stripper who weds a Russian oligarch’s son and must fend off her horrified in-laws has won the top prize, the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival.  

The 77th Cannes Film Festival closed on Saturday 25th May after a star-studded and action-packed 2024 edition that began on Tuesday 14th May.  

In the end, it was the latest movie from American director Sean Baker, a man who has made a career out of making indie films about sex workers, who took home the Palme d’Or for his film Anora. This is the first time an American has nabbed the top prize since Terrence Malick’s 2011 win for The Tree of Life and is Baker’s second time being in the competition. The last was for Red Rocket in 2021. 

Upon accepting the award, Baker commented on the importance of cinema in our collective existence, saying, “Watching a film with others in a movie theatre is one of the great communal experiences. We share laughter, sorrow, anger, fear and hopefully have a catharsis with our friends and strangers. So, I say the future of cinema is where it started: in a movie theatre.”  

Anora is the story of an exotic dancer, the titular character, who steals the heart of a Russian oligarch’s son. They marry after a whirlwind romance and then must face the groom’s parents, who are none too happy to have this woman in the family.  

Other highlights were Payal Kapadia’s All We Imagine As Light, which won the Grand Prix, and was the first Indian film to be In Competition in 30 years. The film is about two nurses, who are also housemates, going on a beach holiday together in an attempt to unravel the troubles of their respective worlds.  

Best Screenplay went to French writer-director Coralie Fargeat for horror film The Substance, the tale of an aging star who uses a black-market drug to temporarily make herself younger, but finds the side-effects more than she bargained for.  

The Jury Prize went to Jacques Audiard, a Cannes darling and multi-prize winner, for his Spanish language musical crime comedy caper Emilia Perez. The movie also saw the Best Actress prize go to four of the film’s cast: Adriana Paz, Zoe Saldana, Karla Sofia Gascon and Selena Gomez. 

Jesse Plemons won Best Actor for in his role in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinds Of Kindness. 

Click here for the full list of this year’s winners.  

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Photo credit: Amandine Goezt / Cannes Film Festival / Facebook