Meryl Streep, George Lucas, Studio Ghibli's Honorary Palme d’Or

The award honors those in the film industry with an extraordinary body of work.

The Palme d’Or is the highest award given at the Cannes Film Festival. For many, it’s one of the most prestigious awards in the entire film industry.

Since 2002, a non-competitive, honorary Palme d’Or has been awarded to filmmakers and actors at the festival. These are people who have a notable body of work but have never won a competitive Palme d’Or.

This year, the 77th Cannes Film Festival awarded Meryl Streep, George Lucas, and Studio Ghibli with an honorary Palme d’Or.

READ ALSO: Praiseworthy Features: Films Receive Impressive Standing Ovations At Cannes 2024

Meryl Streep was guest of honor

Meryl Streep received her honorary Palme d’Or at the opening of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Before she could even accept the award, she was greeted with a two-minute standing ovation.

French actor Juliette Binoche presented the award to Streep, saying, “When I see you on the screen, I don’t see you…Where does it come from? Were you born like this? I don’t know, but there’s a believer in you. A believer that allows me to believe.”

Meryl Streep at Cannes Film Festival 2024
Meryl Streep at Cannes Film Festival 2024 | Image via Wikimedia Commons

Binoche went on to mention some of Streep’s most beloved roles in films such as Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, The Devil Wears Prada, and Mamma Mia, among others. “You have carved out an indelible place for yourself in the history of cinema,” Binoche told Streep. “You are an international treasure.”

Streep accepted the award to the tune of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” After praising Binoche for her performances, she said, “For me, watching those clips, it’s like looking out the window of a bullet train, watching my youth fly into my middle age right on to where I am standing on the stage tonight.”

Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried in Mamma Mia!
Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried in Mamma Mia! | Image via Instagram @mammamiamovie

She also reflected on her first time at the festival in 1989. “Thirty-five years ago when I was here for the first time, I was already a mother of three. I was about to turn 40 and I thought that my career was over,” she recalled.

“And that was not an unrealistic expectation for actresses at that time…But my mother, who was usually right about everything, said to me, ‘Meryl, darling, you’ll see it all goes so fast. So fast.’ And it does. Except for my speech, which is too long.”

Studio Ghibli makes history

On May 19, Studio Ghibli became the first group to receive an honorary Palme d’Or. Just this year, the Japanese animation studio also won a Best Animated Feature Oscar for Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron. At Cannes, Miyazaki’s son Gorō—director of From Up on Poppy Hill and Tales from Earthsea—and Kenichi Yoda represented the group.

Thierry Frémaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival, introduced Studio Ghibli saying, “We’re all here because we’re besotted with this Japanese animation. For the very first time, Iris Knobloch and I decided to award the honorary Palme d’Or to a studio, rather than a single creative. And what a studio!”

Gorō Miyazaki accepting the honorary Palme d'Or
Gorō Miyazaki accepting the honorary Palme d’Or | Image via Wikimedia Commons

Though Hayao Miyazaki himself was not able to travel to Cannes, he thanked the festival and the audience through a video message.

Juan Antonia Bayona, member of the festival jury and longtime fan of Studio Ghibli, presented the award to Gorō Miyazaki. “I remember the emotions I felt while watching all these films,” he said. “Thank you for opening up your world to us and making our lives a little bit better, a little more colorful.”

“Ghibli was launched 40 years ago by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Tokuma Shoten. They may be the studio’s biggest contributors, but I want to extend this award to all the hard-working teams,” the director said upon receiving the award.

“This is an honor owed to all those who have loved our films, too: I’d like to thank all Ghibli fans.” As a gift, fans at the festival were treated to four short films by Hayao Miyazaki, three of which have never been screened outside of Japan.

George Lucas gets his flowers

At the film festival’s closing ceremony, George Lucas received his honorary Palme d’Or. Lucas’ longtime friend, mentor, and collaborator, Francis Ford Coppola, was the one who presented the award to him. When Lucas stepped onstage, the crowd gave him a five-minute standing ovation.

The festival called Star Wars, the filmmaker’s creation, a “visionary intergalactic odyssey that reinvented the codes of cinematic genres as part of the New Hollywood movement…The film captivated the American crowds and became a worldwide socio-cultural phenomenon, which continues to this day.”

George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola onstage at the Cannes Film Festival
George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola onstage at the Cannes Film Festival | Image via Instagram @festivaldecannes

While presenting the award, Coppola recalled the first time he met Lucas. It was on the set of his film Finian’s Rainbow in 1968. “Pleased to have someone in my own generation, I suggested he come every day. But only on one condition: That he come up with a brilliant suggestion every day, which he consistently did. And with that began an association that has lasted a lifetime,” he said.

Coppola continued his speech by mentioning Lucas’ first rejection. It led him to taking a risk and creating his own movie, Star Wars. “Congratulations, George. Not only am I and your many friends proud of you, but the world is here, proud to honor you.”

George Lucas on the set of Star Wars
George Lucas on the set of Star Wars | Image via Instagram @starwars

“I can’t thank all of you enough. Because I’m just a kid that grew up in a vineyard in Modesto, California, who makes movies in San Francisco with my friend Francis,” Lucas said as he accepted the award.

“It’s a real honor to be here,” he concluded. “Thank you so much.”

Banner image by Kevin Payravi via Wikimedia Commons.

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