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Russian drama 'Unclenching the Fists' wins Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes

  • >> Reuters and
    Published: 2021-07-17 13:40:56 BdST

The 74th Cannes Film Festival - The Croisette - Cannes, France, July 8, 2021. A man walks past a Palme d'Or symbol. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Russian filmmaker Kira Kovalenko's "Unclenching the Fists" triumphed in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes on Friday, winning the top prize in the more art-focused section of the film festival.

The drama, which is based in a former mining town in Russia's southern region of North Ossetia, tells the story of a young woman trying to break free from her family's grip.

Kovalenko, who wrote and directed the film, was unable to attend the ceremony on the French Riviera in person as she is on set for another movie.

Running parallel to the festival's main competition, Un Certain Regard, French for "of a certain regard," offers the chance for young directors to feature in the prestigious cinema showcase.

Among the twenty features competing this year was director Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s ‘Rehana Maryam Noor’, the first Bangladeshi film to feature at the prestigious festival.

Starring Azmeri Haque Badhon, the film tells the story of Rehana, an assistant professor at a local medical college, who finds herself in a difficult position after witnessing a sexual assault where she knows both the victim and the perpetrator.

The film received a standing ovation after its premiere.

“In our discussions, the two things we were constantly saying were: ‘this film is very brave’ and ‘this film comes from the heart’,” said Andrea Arnold, the director and screenwriter who led the Un Certain Regard jury.

“Many of the films are very passionate and many of the films are talking about things which are hard to talk about. We’d like to acknowledge all the filmmakers for their brave and beautiful work. Their films created vigorous debates.”

The festival top prize, the Palme d'Or, will be announced at the closing ceremony on Saturday.

This year's event, the festival's 74th edition, has been pared back from its usual hectic 12 days of glitzy movie premieres, with fewer attendees and less parties.

However, the red carpet has brimmed with film stars including Matt Damon, Sharon Stone, Jessica Chastain, Tilda Swinton and Sean Penn in a show of support for cinema, an industry crushed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Jonathan Oatis; with additional details by the News Desk)