Arab Today, arab today canness coveted palme dor turns 60
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Cannes's coveted Palme d'Or turns 60

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Arab Today, arab today Cannes's coveted Palme d'Or turns 60

The Palme d'Or trophy
Paris - AFP

For filmmakers the world over, winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes is a unique sign of international recognition for a movie.

This year the trophy -- now a palm frond of gold on a lozenge-shaped crystal base -- turns 60.

The first Palme d'Or was awarded in 1955 to "Marty," an American film starring Ernest Borgnine and directed by Delbert Mann.

It has since been handed out 54 times, including five years in which it was shared between two movies in competition. Only one female director, New Zealand's Jane Campion, has won it, in 1993 for "The Piano."

 

- Replaced a certificate -

 

The Cannes Film Festival started in 1946, but in its early years delivered just a certificate with "Grand Prix of the International Film Festival" on it, along with a work by contemporary artists that changed each time.

In 1954, the festival organisers called on jewellery houses to come up with a trophy that referenced the palm leaf on Cannes's municipal coat of arms. A jewellery creator named Lucienne Lazon won the tender with her design.

But the look -- with the palm's stem morphing into a heart, on a terracotta base -- had its critics, and in 1963 it was discarded. Between 1964 and 1974 the festival went back to awarding certificates, before reverting to a golden palm trophy once more.

After some makeovers -- during which the terracotta pedestal became pyramidal, then crystal -- the trophy was modernised in 1977 into its current incarnation under a design by Caroline Scheufele, co-president of the Swiss jewellery company Chopard.

In return for an exclusivity deal, Chopard provides the 20,000-euro ($23,000) Palme d'Or trophy each year for free.

The frond, with 19 handcrafted leaves, weighs 118 grammes of 18-carat gold. It rests on a one-kilogramme bevelled bloc of crystal in the shape of a diamond.

Since 2013, the Swiss jeweller has guaranteed the ethical origins of the golden component of the prize, ensuring that both the workers -- in cooperatives in Chile's Atacama desert -- and the environment are well treated in its construction. The crystal comes from Germany.

It takes seven workers and jewellers 40 hours to complete the trophy.

 

- A 'spare' Palme d'Or -

 

But what happens if two movies win the Palme d'Or in a shared first prize? In anticipation of that eventuality -- and also in case of any accidents -- a spare Palme d'Or without a date marked on it is kept in reserve.

Right up to the award ceremony, the Palme is kept safe in the jeweller's vaults, and delivered at the last minute to the festival's organisers amid great secrecy and security.

Since 2000, mini-Palme trophies recognising the best male and female actors in Cannes's films are also provided.

Just six directors have won Cannes's top prize twice: Francis Ford Coppola, in 1974 for "The Conversation" and in 1979 for "Apocalypse Now;" Shoei Imamura in 1983 for "The Ballad of Narayama" and 1997 for "The Eel;" Bille August in 1988 for "Pelle the Conquerer" and in 1992 for "The Best Intentions;" Emir Kusturica in 1985 for "When Father Was Away on Business" and in 1995 for "Underground;" Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne in 1999 for "Rosetta" and in 2005 for "The Child;" and Michael Haneke in 2009 for "The White Ribbon" and 2012 for "Love."

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