US director Sean Baker wins top honours at Cannes 2024

The American director Sean Baker – best known for Tangerine and The Florida Project – has won the prestigious Palme d’Or – the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival – for Anora, about a prostitute who marries a multi-millionaire.

Collecting the trophy from the Star Wars creator George Lucas – who’d just received an honorary Palme d’Or for his contribution to cinema – Baker dedicated it to “all sex workers past and present” and said winning the Palme d’Or had literally been “his singular goal as a film-maker for the past thirty years.”

The president of the jury that chose the winner, the Barbie director Greta Gerwig, said the film had “captured our hearts and let us laugh and then broke our hearts.”

The runner-up Grand Prix honours went to the Indian director Payal Kapadia for All We Imagine As Light.

The Jury Prize, for the third-placed film, went to French director Jacques Audiard’s Spanish-language musical Emilia Pérez, about a Mexican drug kingpin, who becomes a woman. The film also won the Best Actress award, shared between Selena Gomez, Adriana Paz, Zoe Saldaña and Karla Sofía Gascón – the first trans actor to win an acting prize at Cannes.

The Best Actor award went to the American star Jesse Plemons, for the anthology film from Yorgos Lanthimos, Kinds of Kindness.

Portugal’s Miguel Gomes was named the best director, for Grand Tour and the French director Coralie Fargeat took home the best screenplay prize for The Substance, a feminist fable about how a female celebrity copes with ageing.

There was also a Special Award handed to the Iranian film, The Seed of the Sacred Fig, whose director Mohammad Rasoulof fled Iran on foot to attend the festival, after being sentenced to an eight-year jail term for making the film – using secret footage of the 2022 anti-government demonstrations in the country.