French lesbian love story wins top prize at Cannes

Sun May 26, 2013 6:37pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith and Alexandria Sage

CANNES (Reuters) - An intimate lesbian love story by French director Abdellatif Kechiche won the top prize in Cannes on Sunday, and the film festival's director immediately urged the large crowds protesting against gay marriage in Paris to go and see it.

"La Vie d'Adele - Chapitre 1 & 2" (Blue is the Warmest Colour) was chosen from a field of 20 films exploring sex, violence and emotional anguish which were vying for the Palme d'Or, one of the most coveted film awards after the Oscars.

Critics picked the three-hour film as a possible winner at the 66th Cannes festival, but wondered if its explicit lesbian sex scenes - one lasting up to 10 minutes - would deter the jury deciding the awards led by U.S. filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

In an unusual move, Spielberg said the award would be shared between Kechiche and his two lead actresses Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux as they were central to the film's success.

"I think it will get a lot of play ... I think this film carries a very strong message, a very positive message," Spielberg told journalists. "It was the perfect choice between those two actresses and this incredible very sensitive and observant filmmaker."

Spielberg said he supported same-sex marriage, but downplayed any suggestion the award was to promote this cause.

Festival director Thierry Fremaux said the film was timely, as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched in Paris on Sunday to protest France's recent legalization of same-sex marriage.

"Everyone who is against same-sex marriage or love between two people of the same sex must see the film," he told Reuters.   Continued...

Director Abdellatif Kechiche (C) poses with actresses Lea Seydoux (L) and Adele Exarchopoulos (R) during a photocall after he received the Palme d'Or award for the film "La Vie D'Adele" at the closing ceremony of the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 26, 2013. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau