Blue is the warmest color

Lea Seydoux & Adele Exarchopoulos, stars of "Blue is the Warmest Color: The Life of Adele" during The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festival on May 23. (Pascal Le Segretain/ Getty Images)

CANNES, France — The tender lesbian romance "Blue Is the Warmest Color: The Life of Adele" won the hearts of the 66th Cannes Film Festival, taking its đứng top honor, the Palme d"Or.

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

"The film had a beautiful French youth that I discovered during the long time filming the movie," said Kechiche at the festival closing ceremony Sunday. "It taught me a lot about the spirit of freedom."

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 Seydoux. The three-hour film caught headlines for its lengthy, graphic sex scenes, but bewitched festival goers with its intimate coming-of-age story.

"The film is a great love story that made all of us feel privileged to lớn be a fly on the wall, lớn see this story of deep love và deep heartbreak evolve from the beginning," said Spielberg. "The director didn"t put any constraints on the narrative, on the storytelling. He let the scenes play in real life."

Spielberg, who called Kechiche ("Games of Love & Chance," ""The Secret of the Gran") a "sensitive, observant filmmaker."

Cannes" feting of "Life of Adele" comes just days after France legalized gay marriage. Thousands of protesters marched against the new law Sunday in Paris. But jury member Cristian Mungiu, the Romanian director, said current events had no bearing on the decision.

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

The Palme d"Or, which the jury selected from the đôi mươi films in competition at Cannes, had been viewed as a relatively wide-open race ahead of Sunday"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.


Actress Lea Seydoux (l-r), director Abdellatif Kechiche, và actress Adele Exarchopoulos were awarded the Palme d"Or for the film. The jury was helmed by Steven Spielberg. (Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press)

The Coen brothers" 1960s folk revival "Inside Llewyn Davis" earned the Grand Prix, Cannes" 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 lớn 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 và a new fiancé in Asghar Farhadi"s "The Past."

The jury prize, Cannes" third đứng đầu award, went to lớn 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."

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

Spielberg, whose jury also included Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman và Christoph Waltz, said the group bonded immediately, joking: "I wanted to lớn take them all trang chủ with me."

The Palme d"Or can catapult a filmmaker lớn international renown, and significantly raise the profile of a film. "Life of Adele" was picked up for U.S. Distribution during Cannes by IFC"s Sundance Selects. Last year"s winner, Michael Haneke"s "Amour," went on to win best foreign language film at the Oscars, as well as land the rare best picture nomination for a foreign film. In 2011, Terrence Malick"s "The Tree of Life" topped Cannes.