The 2017 Cannes Film Festival has come to an end in history-making fashion. When Jury President Pedro Almodóvar announced the Best Director prize to “The Beguiled” helmer Sofia Coppola, she became the second female director in the festival’s 70-year history to claim the prize. The last woman to win Best Director was Soviet filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva in 1961 for “The Chronicle of Flaming Years.”
Coppola earned strong reviews for “The Beguiled,” a feminist adaptation of the Clint Eastwood-starring 1971 film of the same name. Nicole Kidman, who won the 70th Anniversary Prize earlier today, plays the headmistress of a secluded school for girls in 1864 Virginia. Their lifestyle is disrupted by the discovery of a wounded Union Army solider. Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst also star.
In his A- review, IndieWire senior film critic David Ehrlich hailed the movie as “the mustiest and most conventionally entertaining film of Coppola’s brilliant career.” It was later named one of IndieWire’s 10 best movies of Cannes 2017.
The last time Coppola competed for the Palme was in 2006 with “Marie Antoinette.” She was famously booed for the period drama, which makes her history-making victory today all the more celebratory. In her pre-written speech (she was not on hand to accept the award), the director thanked Jane Campion for “being a role model and supporting women filmmakers.” Campion remains the only female director to win the Palme.
Focus Features will release “The Beguiled” in select theaters June 23, 2017.