Critics’ Groups Give Top Cannes Awards to Korean Drama ‘Burning’

Cannes 2018: Lee Chang-dong’s slow-burn drama was named the festival’s top film by FIPRESCI and the International Cinephile Society

Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning” has been named the best film of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival by two critics’ groups, the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) and the International Cinephile Society.

The Korean director’s leisurely paced love-triangle drama has topped all critics’ polls at the festival. “Always shifting gears the moment you think you’ve figured it out, Lee Chang-dong’s slow burn tale of alienation and obsession is something like an art-house equivalent of fine wine,” wrote Ben Croll in TheWrap.

The awards came as sharp-eyed Cannes-watchers on Twitter, noting which filmmakers had returned to the town for Saturday’s awards ceremony, buzzed about rumors that “Burning” might be completely overlooked by the Cannes jury headed by Cate Blanchett.

The FIPRESCI awards, which were chosen by a nine-person jury of critics from seven different countries, went to “Burning” in the main competition, with the jury citation calling it “a visually stunning film and an emotionally complex comment on contemporary society”; and Lukas Dhont’s “Girl” in the Un Certain Regard section, which the jury lauded for “its bold integrity in tackling gender issues and displaying incredible poise.”

For a first or second film from the independent Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week sections, the jury chose “One Day” by Zsofia Szilagyi, lauding how “the precise camera work and the powerful mise-en-scene convey the extraordinary intensity and tension of an utterly ordinary situation with feeling, humor and drama.”

The International Cinephile Society, which is made up of 21 critics from around the world, also gave its top award to “Burning.” In fact, wrote the group in its announcement, Lee Chang-dong’s film “burned the competition to ashes in virtually every category” and “should technically have won everything but Best Actress.” But the ICS follows the same rules as the official Cannes jury, which rules out giving any other awards to the film that wins the Palme d’Or.

“Burning” won the ICS’s Palme, while Jean-Luc Godard’s “Image Book” took the runner-up Grand Prize and Jia Zhang-Ke’s “Ash is Purest White” and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters” tied for the Jury Prize.

The group named Alice Rohrwacher best director for “Happy as Lazzaro,” and gave the acting awards to Marcello Fonte for “Dogman” and Zhao Tao for “Ash Is Purest White.”

Its screenplay awards went to Christophe Honore for “Sorry Angel” and Ryusuke Hamaguchi for “Asako I & II.”

In other Cannes awards, the Ecumenical Jury gave its top award to Nadine Labaki’s “Capharnaum,” with a special commendation to Spike Lee for “BlacKkKlansman.”

And the tongue-in-cheek Palme Dog award, which goes to the best canine performance at the festival, was shared by all the dogs in Matteo Garrone’s main-competition film “Dogman.”

The Palme d’Or and other official Cannes awards will be presented during a Saturday evening ceremony in the Grand Theatre Lumiere.