Cannes, its red carpet, its stars, its celebrations, its prizes … and this “parallel” trophy that never goes unnoticed: the Palm Dog of Dogamì. This award created more than 20 years ago by Toby Rose, a completely crazy British film critic, was awarded on Friday to the favorite Beast, the sovereign poodle from the movie War Pony. Initially a parody, this trophy has nevertheless managed to become a small must-have on the Croisette.
Rewarding a dog performance on the big screen, is it crazy? Not so much ! Already because many more movies than you think include one or more dogs in their script. And depending on the significance of the role, it will have taken a preliminary casting, preparation time and of course filming. On the other hand, this distinction is also a way of glorifying and talking about dogs’ essential place in our society and in our daily lives.
“Is he serious or is he funny, I do not know! »
WHO’s in charge? An international jury of six journalists. As part of their classic work as film critics, they see all the films shown at Cannes: the films in the competition, the Directors’ Fortnight or the Un Certain Regard selection. As soon as a movie shows a dog (in addition to a simple look of course), it is included in the movies that are eligible for the Palm Dog. The choice is then made on the basis of criteria such as the dimension of the role, the underwear that will have been necessary for the animal to be able to embody it, and the obvious complicity between the dog and the man. Peter Bradshaw, a well-known film critic for The Guardian, has been on the jury for many years: “I never know how to describe this award. Is he serious or is he funny, I do not know! “.
This year, six films could seriously compete within the Palm Dog, including the biopic Elvis, Masquerade by Nicolas Bedos or Godland. Finally, it was Beast, the dog from the movie War Pony, directed by Riley Keough and Gina Gammell, who won the day. The story takes place on a Native American reservation in the state of South Dakota in the USA, where young people compete in ingenuity to find lucrative adult activities. One of them chooses to start breeding royal poodles, thanks to a dog, Beast, wonderfully interpreted by Britney. The Star Dog is a real common thread in the film that fuels the rivalry between the young protagonists. This is the second edition where a poodle is sacred, the previous one goes back to 2013 for Baby Boy, in the movie My life with Liberace, where we especially found Matt Damon.
The jury agrees on his choice the day before the ceremony, and that is the start of the riot for Yoann Latouche, the organizer. “We contact the members of the film; this year the directors intervened in video, they were no longer present at Cannes. As for the dog, you can well imagine that it’s complicated to bring the winning dog to the Croisette, so we have less than 24 hours to find … its look-alike. “Mission completed in hands, it was not one, but two royal poodles (one white and one black, Gulietta and Rapunzel) who went on stage to represent Britney and receive cheers from a conquered audience.
Crus more obvious than others
Some vintages are more conspicuous than others depending on the editions, but surely Palm Dog from Dogamì has really made a name for itself. Toby Rose welcomes a comparison with her hair: “It’s like walking from a Chihuahua to a Rodhesian Ridgeback”. And some years the choice is obvious! When The Artist, by Michel Hazanavicius, participated in the films in the competition in 2011, the dog Uggie easily won the Palm Dog (moreover, he has since received, posthumously, the Palm Dog from the Palm Dogs for the past 20 years). Ditto reaches a film from the official selection in 2018 called Dogman and has a dog groomer as the main role. Of course, the dogs do not receive their prize “personally”. Director, producer or actor represents them. In 2019, Quentin Tarantino replaced Brandy, the pit bull dog from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It must be said that the dog played a crucial role in the scenario (spoiler alert), and even rescued Brad Pitt at the end of the film. As for last year, Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton portrayed the award-winning Springer Spaniel in the film she portrayed, The Souvenir, Part II.
Note this year that a special prize was awarded to a dog who did not excel in a movie but in a war zone: Patron, Jack Russel, who specializes in mine detection, and who became a national hero in Ukraine. Like what, even in an offbeat ceremony, we are no less engaged!