Quentin Tarantino turned Palm Dog on its head at Cannes Film Festival 2019. The Pulp Fiction director – the film for which he won the Palme d’Or in 1994 – had won the Palm Dog on the 25th anniversary of his breakthrough Cannes win. True to form, his arrival at the Palm Dog ceremony did not go unnoticed. Arriving from across la Croisette, from his festival HQ at the landmark seafront Carlton, he burst into the Members Club at the beach restaurant Plage 45, to take pole position at the ceremony.
The late starting of the event and the dramatic security staff chatter announcing his arrival meant there was a hasty reshuffling of the running order. For the first time, the top prize came first.
The assembled journalists and filmmakers and their guests turned in amazement when he strode into the room heading with determination to the stage. The coveted red trophy collar created by Creature Clothes was held aloft by comedy stars Sally Phillips, of Bridget Jones Diary fame, and Ronni Ancona of The Big Impression. The larger than life director took his prize and proceeded to extol the virtues of the dogs who played Brandy – sidekick to Brad Pitt’s character Cliff Booth in the movie.
Joined by a massive Cane Corso named Haru, the filmmaker told the assembled crowd, “I have to say I am so honoured to have this. I’ve told everybody, I have no idea if we’re going to win the Palme d’Or. I feel no entitlement. But I did feel that I was in good standing to win the Palm Dog. So I want to dedicate this to my wonderful actress Brandy. She has brought the Palm Dog home to America.”
After initial fears that canine talent was thin on the ground, 2019 turned into a particularly rich hunting ground for canine cinema turns which meant that the Grand Jury Prize was shared. Aasha won for her titular turn in Aasha and the Street Dogs; a tale of joyous antics of stray street dogs of Mumbai – our leading lady win was a truly captivating three-legged street dog who prevails in a very tough world.
Joint winner was Bello – a briard sheepdog – who was a very loveable pooch presence, incongruously padding around a lab creating genetically modified plants. The affable hound unwittingly found himself caught up in the fearful atmosphere of cross-contamination and paid a heavy price. Her Cannes double Walter picked up the prize.
Palm DogManitarian 2019 was awarded to Google for doggie good deeds – notably supporting guide dogs for the blind – and being a wonderfully dog-friendly workplace. A fabulous acceptance speech was shown on monitors which came to Cannes especially, recorded from Google’s New York HQ by Jennifer Harvey with a nod to her four-legged pal, Horatio.
Finally, a new award capped Palm Dog 2019 – the Palm Underdog. For the first time a dog, human or conspicuously deserving creature is recognised for facing down adversity as the underdog. The Unadoptables was a film banging the drum for rescue dogs. Picking up the first Palm Underdog for the RSPCA endorsed, Huawei funded film featuring Louis Smith was …Louis Smith recorded in a very slick film from London. At his side and promoting the cause of the adoption of strays was loveable lurcher, Penny.
2019 Palm Jury members were: Kaleem Aftab (The I), Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian), Rita Di Santo (Vice President FIPRESCI), Wendy Mitchell (contributing editor Screen International), Anna Smith (Chair of London Critics Circle and Host of Girls on Film podcast), Tim Robey (The Telegraph), Joe Utichi (Deadline Hollywood), and Damon Wise (film critic and author).
On a footnote – or should that be pawnote – Kill Bill director Quentin was so bowled over by the win that he declared he will not be giving the film’s physical award — an impressive red leather collar — to Brandy. “I’m not going to give this to her — it’ll go on my mantelpiece,” he said.
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