The Library’s Palmes d’Or

Cannes is not the only place to celebrate Cinema! The Library’s collection holds twenty films that won the famous festival’s supreme award in its collections. Let’s take a closer look at our collection.

Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (Roma città aperta) moves the 1946 jury, while the Palme d’Or is still a mere Grand Prix at the time, and becomes the symbol of neo-realism. Italy wins again in 1963 with The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) by Luchino Visconti.

In 1949, Carol Reed’s The Third Man takes Cannes’ audiences into the underbelly of Vienna to the catchy music of Anton Karas.

Reed, Carol. The Third Man. 1949

War remains an emotional theme, and the festival has honoured haunting and inspiring stories. Europe addresses its traumas in films such as Michael Hanneke’s The White Ribbon in 2009, Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) in 1979 and The Pianist by Roman Polanski, which wins the Palme in 2002.

Korea and Vietnam drive the United States to madness in Robert Altman’s comedy M*A*S*H in 1970 or 1978 landmark Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse now.

Briton Ken Loach and Serb Emir Kusturica also tell tales of the war in their respective countries: The wind that shakes the barley sweeps 2006 whilst Underground explodes in 1995 – the latter is also the subject of a Master’s thesis at the Institute (HEIDME 132).

Kusturica, Emir. Underground. 1995

Political conflicts also inflame directors’ minds: in 1982, Costa-Gavras denounces the 11 September 1973 coup in Chile in his film Missing, whilst in 2004 Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 documentary reports on American failings following the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Major social issues leave no one indifferent either:

  • colonisation in Roland Joffé’s The Mission in 1986,
  • emigration in Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan in 2015,
  • violent youth in Gus Van Sant’s Elephant in 2003,
  • class struggle in Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (Gisaengchung) in 2019,
  • misery in Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake in 2016,
  • abortion in Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 luni, 3 saptamini si 2 zile) in 2007,
  • gender and trans-identity in Julia Ducournau’s Titane in 2021.

These majestic films are mostly deep and heavy to watch. To bring back a smile on your face, check out Ruben Östlund’s The Square, a gritty provocation on the art world that wins gold in 2017. If you have not watched the condom scene, you definitely should.

Vive le cinéma in Cannes, and vive la Bibliothèque !

Östlund, Ruben. The Square. 2017


Find our selection on swisscovery.


Don’t have a DVD player? Borrow a portable DVD player from our services.


Suggested readings:

Iordanova, Dina, and Leshu Torchin. Film Festivals and Activism. St Andrews: St Andrews Films Studies, 2012. 791.43 HEIA 113698

Rhyne, Ragan, and Dina Iordanova. The Festival Circuit. St. Andrews, Scotland: St Andrews Film Studies, 2009. 791.43 HEIA 113332

Valck, Marijke de, and Marijke de Valck. Film Festivals : from European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2007. 791.43 HEIA 113008. Ebook

Wong, Cindy Hing-yuk, and Cindy H. Wong. Film Festivals : Culture, People, and Power on the Global Screen. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2011. 791.43 HEIA 113009


Illustration: CC BY-SA 4.0

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