DIRECTOR MATI Diop has become the first black female director to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Diop took home the Grand Prix for her film Atlantics, a Senegalese drama which explores a group of boys lost at sea off the coast of Dakar, seen through the eyes of a troubled young Muslim woman, Dana.
“That film touched us in our hearts,” said juror Elle Fanning in the post-awards press conference. “It deals with issues, but it also felt quite personal and vulnerable and very emotional and just quite precious.”
Diop previously discussed being the first black woman nominated for an award in Cannes 72-year history. She said she felt “moved” but a “little sad” at the achievement.
“It’s pretty late and it’s incredible that it is still relevant,” she said.
“My first feeling to be the first black female director was a little sadness that this only happened today in 2019.
“I knew it as I obviously don’t know any black women who came here before. I knew it but it’s always a reminder that so much work needs to be done still.”
The festival, which came to a close on Friday (May 25) also saw Korean director Bong Joon-ho make history as he was honoured with The Palme d’Or – the most prestigious award at the festival – for his film Parasite, a dark comedy that explores the dynamics of social class.
Bong is the first Korean to win Cannes’ top prize.