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‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ is Cannes’ Palme d’Or

  • Actress Lea Seydoux, left, director Abdellatif Kechiche, centre, and Adele Exarchopoulos pose with the Palme d'Or award for the film La Vie D'Adele during a photo call after an awards ceremony at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013.  (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

    Actress Lea Seydoux, left, director Abdellatif Kechiche, centre, and Adele Exarchopoulos pose with the Palme d'Or award for the film La Vie D'Adele during a photo call after an awards ceremony at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

  • From left,actress  Lea Seydoux, director Abdellatif Kechiche, centre, and actress Adele Exarchopoulos pose for photographers as they arrive for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

    From left,actress Lea Seydoux, director Abdellatif Kechiche, centre, and actress Adele Exarchopoulos pose for photographers as they arrive for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

  • Actress Berenice Bejo poses for photographers as she arrives for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

    Actress Berenice Bejo poses for photographers as she arrives for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

  • Actress Berenice Bejo poses for photographers as she arrives for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. Bejo won the Best actress award for her role in The Past. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

    Actress Berenice Bejo poses for photographers as she arrives for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. Bejo won the Best actress award for her role in The Past. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

  • In this photo taken Friday, May 24, 2013, actor Bruce Dern poses for a photograph following an interview with The Associated Press at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France. Dern won the award for the best performance by an actor for his role in Nebraska on Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)

    In this photo taken Friday, May 24, 2013, actor Bruce Dern poses for a photograph following an interview with The Associated Press at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France. Dern won the award for the best performance by an actor for his role in Nebraska on Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)

  • Producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, left, actress Berenice Bejo, director Asghar Farhadi, second from right in back, actor Ali Mosaffa, back right, actress Jeanne Jestin, front left, and actor Elyes Aguis, front right, pose for photographers as they arrive for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

    Producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, left, actress Berenice Bejo, director Asghar Farhadi, second from right in back, actor Ali Mosaffa, back right, actress Jeanne Jestin, front left, and actor Elyes Aguis, front right, pose for photographers as they arrive for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

  • Jury members from left, Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Naomi Kawase, Lynne Ramsay, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Auteuil, Vidya Balan and Cristian Mungiu arrive for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

    Jury members from left, Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Naomi Kawase, Lynne Ramsay, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Auteuil, Vidya Balan and Cristian Mungiu arrive for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

  • Director Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw arrive on the red carpet for the screening of Venus in Fur at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 25, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

    Director Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw arrive on the red carpet for the screening of Venus in Fur at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 25, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

  • Director Abdellatif Kechiche gestures after being presented the Palme d'Or award for his film La Vie D'Adele during an awards ceremony at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013.  (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

    Director Abdellatif Kechiche gestures after being presented the Palme d'Or award for his film La Vie D'Adele during an awards ceremony at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

  • Actress Lea Seydoux, left, director Abdellatif Kechiche, centre, and Adele Exarchopoulos pose with the Palme d'Or award for the film La Vie D'Adele during a photo call after an awards ceremony at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013.  (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
  • From left,actress  Lea Seydoux, director Abdellatif Kechiche, centre, and actress Adele Exarchopoulos pose for photographers as they arrive for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
  • Actress Berenice Bejo poses for photographers as she arrives for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
  • Actress Berenice Bejo poses for photographers as she arrives for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. Bejo won the Best actress award for her role in The Past. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
  • In this photo taken Friday, May 24, 2013, actor Bruce Dern poses for a photograph following an interview with The Associated Press at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France. Dern won the award for the best performance by an actor for his role in Nebraska on Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)
  • Producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, left, actress Berenice Bejo, director Asghar Farhadi, second from right in back, actor Ali Mosaffa, back right, actress Jeanne Jestin, front left, and actor Elyes Aguis, front right, pose for photographers as they arrive for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
  • Jury members from left, Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Naomi Kawase, Lynne Ramsay, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Auteuil, Vidya Balan and Cristian Mungiu arrive for the awards ceremony of the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
  • Director Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw arrive on the red carpet for the screening of Venus in Fur at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 25, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
  • Director Abdellatif Kechiche gestures after being presented the Palme d'Or award for his film La Vie D'Adele during an awards ceremony at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 26, 2013.  (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

The tender, sensual lesbian romance Blue is the Warmest Color: The Life of Adele won the hearts of the 66th Cannes Film Festival, taking its top honor, the Palme d’Or.

The jury, headed by Steven Spielberg, took the unusual move of awarding the Palme not just to Tunisian-born director Abdellatif Kechiche, but also to the film’s two stars: Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. The three clutched each other at the ceremony yesterday as they accepted the award, one of cinema’s greatest honors.

“This film is universal, as it’s a love story, so it’s not important if it’s two women,” said the 19-year-old Exarchopoulos. “If it can show everyone tolerance, then that’s gratifying.”

Exarchopoulos stars in the French film as a 15-year-old girl whose life is changed when she falls in love with an older woman, played by the 27-year-old Seydoux. The three-hour film caught headlines for its lengthy, graphic sex scenes but bewitched festivalgoers with its heartbreaking coming of age story.

Premiering at Cannes just days after France legalized gay marriage, Life of Adele was hailed as a landmark film for its intimate portrait of a same-sex relationship.

“The film is a great love story that made all of us feel privileged to be a fly on the wall, to see this story of deep love and deep heartbreak evolve from the beginning,” Spielberg said. “The director didn’t put any constraints on the narrative, on the storytelling. He let the scenes play as long as scenes play in real life.”

Cannes’s feting of Life of Adele came the same day tens of thousands of protesters in Paris marched against the new gay marriage law. Seydoux called the film “a witness to our time.”

“I am going to do everything for this film to get to Tunisia and other countries that aren’t fully democratic that might have a problem with the scenes in this film,” said Kechiche, whose films include Games of Love and Chance and The Secret of the Gran. “I hope this recognition can help.”

But jury member Cristian Mungiu, the Romanian director, said current events had no bearing on the Palme d’Or decision.

“We were giving awards to cinema,” Mungiu said. “Not for political statements.”

“Gay marriage is something that many brave states in America are resolving,” Spielberg said. “This film actually carries a very strong message, a very positive message.”

The Palme d’Or, which the jury selected from the 20 films in competition at Cannes, had been viewed as a relatively wide-open race ahead of yesterday’s awards. The festival audience embraced the jury’s choice, giving Kechiche and his two stars a standing ovation. Life of Adele had ranked highest in critics polls at the French Riviera festival.

The jury otherwise spread the awards around.

The Coen brothers’ 1960s folk revival Inside Llewyn Davis earned the Grand Prix, Cannes’s second-most prestigious award. The film’s breakout star, Oscar Isaac, accepted the award for the Coens, who won the Palme in 1991 for Barton Fink.

Best actor went to 76-year-old Bruce Dern for Alexander Payne’s father-son road trip Nebraska. Berenice Bejo, the Artist star, won best actress for her performance as a single mother balancing a visiting ex-husband and a new fiance in Asghar Farhadi’s The Past.

The jury prize, Cannes’s third top award, went to Kore-eda Hirokazu’s gentle switched-at-birth drama Like Father, Like Son. Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante took best director for his brutal drug war drama Heli. Best screenplay went to Zhangke Jia’s A Touch Of Sin, a four-part depiction of the violence wrought by China’s economic boom.

Singaporean director Anthony Chen won the Camera d’Or, the award for best first feature, for his Ilo Ilo. Set during the Asia financial crisis in 1997, the film is about a Singaporean family and its new maid.

Yesterday’s awards encompassed films from France, Japan, the United States, Mexico, China and Singapore.

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