By Niamh Kennedy
(CNN) — French film director Justine Triet condemned what she called French President Emmanuel Macron’s “shocking” repression of the pension reform protests during her Palme d’Or acceptance speech at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.
After stepping on stage to accept the award for her film, “The Anatomy of a Chute,” Triet referenced the wave of protests that have gripped France this year.
“This year this country has been taken over by a historic, extremely powerful, unanimous protest on pension reform. This protest has been denied and repressed in a shocking way,” Triet stressed.
Triet maintained that an “increasingly uninhibited” power pattern is breaking out in several areas of French society including cinema.
“The commodification of culture that the neoliberal government defends is in the process of breaking the French cultural exception,” Triet continued. She was presented the award by the iconic actress Jane Fonda onstage.
“We have to make room for them, room that I was given 15 years ago in a slightly less hostile world where it was still possible to make mistakes and start again,” Triet added.
Triet is just the third woman to win the Palme d’Or, one of cinema’s tpp prizes, after New Zealand’s Jane Campion and France’s Julia Ducournau.
Her work – a drama about a woman suspected of her husband’s murder – beat off competition including Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City.”
The second-highest prize after the Palme d’Or, the Grand Prix, went to British director Jonathan Glazer’s for his film “Zone of Interest,” about a family living next to Auschwitz.
Triet’s speech sparked outrage from some, including the French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak, who was present at Saturday’s closing ceremony.
“Happy to see the Palme d’Or awarded to Justine Triet, the 10th for France! But dismayed by the unfairness of her speech. This film could not have been made without our French model of film financing, which allows for a diversity that is unique in the world. Let’s not forget it,” Malak said in a tweet Saturday.
The mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard described Triet as a “spoiled child” in a tweet Saturday.
In his tweet, Lisnard congratulated the winners from across the world who accepted their prizes with “joy and respect.”
“A single, political complaint, that of the French director, with the speech of a spoiled child and so conformist, as she receives the prestigious Palme d’Or for her subsidized film,” Lisnard continued.
France’s social unrest has cast a shadow over this year’s instalment of the film festival. Trade union, CGT Energie which represents energy and mining workers, previously announced “100 days of action and anger” coinciding with the festival period. This created fears that protests, and electricity outages may impact festival events.
To counter this, the Alpes Maritimes regional authorities issued an order on May 11 banning all protests outside the Palais de Festival in Cannes.
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