A lesbian love story, “Blue Is The Warmest Color,” has won the Palme d’Or, the top prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
The jury, headed by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, took the unusual move of awarding the prize, one of the film world’s biggest honors, not only to Tunisian-born French director Abdellatif Kechiche but also to the film's two stars, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux.
In comments to reporters, Spielberg acknowledged the film’s graphic sex scenes but said the jury had been swayed by standout acting performances and the film’s portrayal of what he called “a profound love story.”
"We were absolutely spellbound by the brilliance of the performances of those two amazing young actresses and all the cast, and especially the way the director observed his players, the way he just let the characters breathe," Spielberg said after the prize was announced on May 26.
Kechiche paid tribute to the team effort that led to the film becoming a success.
"I always say that a film, or rather when you succeed in a film, you succeed together, and when you fail, you fail together," he said.
The three-hour film tells of the tumultuous romance of the 15-year-old Adele and her lover Emma.
It's the first French film to win the top prize at Cannes since 2008.
In other prizes, the jury awarded best actress to France's Berenice Bejo for her role in Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's Paris-based family drama "The Past."
Seventy-six-year-old Hollywood veteran Bruce Dern was named best actor for his performance as an alcoholic father in Alexander Payne's recession-era road movie "Nebraska."
Amat Escalante was awarded best director for the violent "Heli," which explores Mexico’s drug wars.
The runner-up award for best film, the Grand Prix, went to Joel and Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis," about a folk singer in 1960s New York City.
With reporting by AFP, dpa, Reuters, and AP