Cannes Directors’ Fortnight Launches Audience Award in Honor of Chantal Akerman

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

Professionals and industry attendees, as well as ordinary moviegoers at the Cannes sidebar, will vote on the Directors’ Fortnight winner. The winning film will receive €7,500 ($8,100) in prize money from the Chantal Akerman Foundation and will be announced at the section’s closing ceremony.

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Akerman chose Fortnight to premiere her 1975 masterpiece, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce – 1080 Brussels, a feminist drama that topped the most recent Sight and Sound poll by filmmakers and critics as the greatest movie of all time.

Throughout the years, Akerman remained loyal to Fortnight, screening such films as Golden Eighties (1986), Sud (1999), La Captive (2000) and Tombée de Nuit sur Shanghaï (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 cinematographic expression” designed to help the winning filmmaker and their film find a larger audience.

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

The Directors’ Fortnight section was launched by the French Directors Guild in 1969 in the wake of the student and labor protests that disturbed — and ultimately shut down — the 1968 Cannes Film Festival. The sidebar is run as an independent section in parallel to the main festival, and its screenings are open to the public.

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