Cannes announces its first Audience Award, in honor of Chantal Akerman

The Directors’ Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival will launch a new audience award this year, named in honor of the late Belgian director Chantal Akerman. This is the first time in the history of Cannes that the public will choose a festival winner.

Industry professionals and stakeholders, as well as ordinary moviegoers at the Cannes Sidebar, will vote to elect the winner of Directors’ Fortnight. The winning film will receive €7,500 ($8,100) in prize money from the Chantal Akerman Foundation and will be announced during the section’s closing ceremony.

Akerman chose Quinzaine to present his 1975 masterpiece, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce – 1080 Brusselsa feminist drama that topped the latest Sight and Sound poll of filmmakers and critics as the greatest film of all time.

Over the years, Akerman remained loyal to Fortnight, screening films such as Golden 80s (1986), South (1999), The Captive (2000) and Nightfall over Shanghai (2007) in the Cannes section.

Fortnight organizers said the award should not be seen as a prize for the best film but rather as “an affirmation of a unique cinematic proposition embracing individuality and freedom of cinematic expression” designed to help the winning filmmaker and his film to find a wider audience.

They added that Akerman’s “pioneering, eclectic and fiercely independent vision” should serve as a compass for voters choosing the winner of the people’s choice.

The Directors’ Fortnight section was launched by the French Directors’ Guild in 1969, following student and union protests that disrupted – and ultimately closed – the 1968 Cannes Film Festival. The sidebar is run as an independent section within …

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