Turkey's Merve Dizdar wins best actress at Cannes

French director Justine Triet won the Palme d'Or top prize for her film 'Anatomy of a Fall'

Turkish actress Merve Dizdar after winning the best actress prize. AFP
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Turkish actress Merve Dizdar has won the Cannes Film Festival's best actress prize for her role in About Dry Grasses as a teacher in an isolated village.

French director Justine Triet won the festival's Palme d'Or for best film on Saturday becoming only the third woman to hold the coveted title.

Dizdar's character in Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's film captures the interests of two village schoolteachers and challenges their cynicism.

Dizdar, 36, has been starring in films and television since the early 2010s after studying acting and starting out in theatre. Previous roles have included some popular TV series in Turkey, including Wounded Love.

Triet used her award speech to criticise how the protest against pension reforms in France “has been denied and repressed in a shocking way”.

Triet won the prize with Anatomy of a Fall and beat some veteran directors including Hirokazu Kore-eda, Ken Loach and Wim Wenders, all of whom have at least one Palme d'Or under their belts.

“The country suffered from historic protests over the reform of the pension system. These protests were denied … repressed in a shocking way,” she said.

She also criticised the “commercialisation of culture” by President Emmanuel Macron's government.

Her speech provoked a swift response from Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak, who said she was “gobsmacked” by Triet's “unfair” comments.

Triet co-wrote her Palme-winning film with her partner Arthur Harari, an actor and director.

French director Justine Triet with her the Palme d'Or. AFP

“For a very long time when I watched films, I took myself for the boy, I identified with the male role”, she said. She was referring to the lack of options for women in the industry when she was young.

Presenting the Palme d'Or, Hollywood legend Jane Fonda recalled the first time she came to Cannes in 1963.

“There were no women directors competing at that time and it never even occurred to us that there was something wrong with that,” she said. “We have come a long way.”

Triet joins New Zealand's Jane Campion and France's Julia Ducournau as the only women to have won the competition.

Anatomy of a Fall features a show-stopping performance from German actress Sandra Hueller.

The Grand Prix, the second-highest prize after the Palme d'Or, went to British director Jonathan Glazer's Zone of Interest about a family living next to Auschwitz.

The prizes

  • Palme d'Or: Justine Triet for Anatomy of a Fall
  • Grand Prix: Jonathan Glazer for The Zone of Interest
  • Best director: Tran Anh Hung for The Pot-au-Feu
  • Best actress: Merve Dizdar for About Dry Grasses
  • Best actor: Koji Yakusho for Perfect Days
  • Best screenplay: Yuji Sakamoto for Monster
  • Jury prize: Aki Kaurismaki for Fallen Leaves
  • Camera d'Or for best first film: Thien An Pham for Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell
  • Best short film: Flora Anna Buda for 27
Updated: May 30, 2023, 12:19 PM