Cannes Film Festival: The Worst Ones wins Un Certain Regard prize

French film wins top prize in the arthouse section, while Pakistan’s first-ever Cannes entry Joyland wins the jury prize.

Directors and cast members of the French film The Worst Ones pose at Cannes Film Festival
Directors Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret and cast members Johan Heldenbergh, Mallory Wanecques, Timeo Mahaut, Esther Archambault, Loic Pech and Melina Vanderplancke pose in Cannes [File: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters]

A film set in the working class suburbs of the northern French city of Boulogne-sur-Mer has won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday.

The Worst Ones, directed by Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret, explores the challenges of street casting, telling the story of a community’s reaction to the arrival of a film crew.

“I hope that this film, beyond reviews, will be read as an homage to the creation of cinema because sometimes it allows us to give a voice to those who are not often heard,” Gueret said.

Deadline described the film, with events that are “thought-provoking and sometimes darkly funny”, as “a fascinating look at the filming experience”.

Meanwhile, Joyland, a film by Saim Sadiq that seeks to break gender stereotypes in Pakistan, the country’s first entry to the Cannes Film Festival, won the jury prize.

Joyland tells the story of the youngest son in a patriarchal family who is expected to produce a baby boy with his wife but joins a dance theatre and falls in love with the troupe’s director, a transgender woman.

“To have a Pakistani film for the first time premiere at Cannes – a story that is germane to Pakistan, that is produced by Pakistanis, where the major cast and the crew come from this country, really shows the strides that this generation of filmmakers have made,” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Pakistani filmmaker and two-time Oscar winner in the best short documentary category, told Al Jazeera this week.

“I think that Saim’s film at Cannes is going to open the floodgates for many filmmakers who will now realise the possibility of creating films that can shine on the international stage.”

Un Certain Regard is a competition focused on arthouse films that runs parallel to the main competition, the Palme d’Or, which will be announced on Saturday.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies