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Cannes Palm Dog prize awarded posthumously
Culture & Life

Cannes Palm Dog prize awarded posthumously

1 2 min. 20.05.2016 From our online archive
In the dog-eat-dog world of stardom, only one can win film's foremost canine prize: This year the Palm Dog in Cannes was awarded to Nellie, the English Bulldog star of "Paterson", who died a few months ago.

(AFP) In the dog-eat-dog world of stardom, only one can win film's foremost canine prize: This year the Palm Dog in Cannes was awarded to Nellie, the English Bulldog star of "Paterson", who died a few months ago.

The pooch was hailed for overcoming her origins as a rescue dog to playing a transgender role, as she had to perform as Marvin in the film by US indie legend Jim Jarmusch which has drawn some of the best reviews in Cannes.

"The dog was such a good improviser that really she –- it's actually a she, playing transgender –- was remarkably good at writing her/his own dialogue. It was quite easy," Jarmusch said after the film's premiere.

But the audience was sad to learn that Nellie was no longer around and a body double Bulldog was brought in to soothe the pup-arazzi.

The awards ceremony is a spoof of the glitzy Palme D'Or which is Cannes' main prize and after 15 years has doggedly carved out a spot as one of the main events in the film festival.

"This year has been truly pawsome, and can I just say that when it came to selecting the top canine big screen turns there was no pawcity of choice," said Palm Dog founder Toby Rose, who had the audience laughing and groaning in turn with his puns.

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A jury of leading film critics considered several doggy performances, including the farting corgis who starred as the queen's furry companions in Steven Spielberg's Big Friendly Giant.

The jury also had to deal with questions of equality, and whether a pack of wolves from the film "Staying Vertical" by Alain Guiraudie could enter the race.

"That is a debate for future ages. I dont think we have yet in place the ethical framework to discuss the issue," said Guardian critic and jury member Peter Bradshaw.

The dogmanitarian award went to a three-legged pooch who had a brief appearance in British director Ken Loach's tearjerker about poor people battling the cruelty of the welfare system.

The director is known for his films defending the underdog and a "revolutionary red collar" was awarded to him and the dog in his absence.

"There is a kind of dog that is also overlooked in our society .... it is a three-legged mutt going up against a glossy set of Hollywood dogs," said Wendy Mitchell from the British Council's film team.

A special jury prize was awarded to a Dalmatian named Jack from the out-of-competition film "In Bed with Victoria" which acts as a witness in a court case.

With Cannes under tight security over terrorism fears, the Palm Dog ceremony also brought out Stratus, a police sniffer dog honoured for working behind the scenes to keep festival-goers safe.