The Oscar, the Golden Globe, the Palme d’Or – of all of these prestigious awards, the Palme d’Or given for the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Director is the most difficult to attain.
While the Oscars has awarded their “Best Director” title 86 times to 65 different directors, the Palme d’Or has only been given out 39 times with this year’s winner gaining the 40th golden palm statuette.
Originally designed by a different artist in vogue each year, in 1955 the organizers of the what would come to be known as the Festival de Cannes, invited jewelers to submit their designs for the coveted award. Beginning in 1955, the Palme d’Or took the place of the festival’s old highest award – The Grand Prix du Festival International du Film, boasting a design from internationally renowned jewelry designer Lucienne Lazon.
The shape and designer of the Palme d’Or changed with the times, gaining more of a pyramid shape in the 80s and moving from a sculpted base to a cut-crystal one in the 90s. In 1997, Caroline Scheufele – the president of renowned Swiss jewelry firm Chopard Jewellers – brought the Palme d’Or into the modern age. Her design includes a hand-cast, 24-carat gold palm frond attached to a piece of cut crystal. The award is then presented to the winner of Best Director in a box of blue, Moroccan leather inlaid with white suede.
For the past 13 years, Chopard Jewellers has provided the Festival de Cannes with its highest award, an incredible feat that is a true testament to the timelessness and beauty of Chopard’s designs. Who will take it home this year? It’s too early to tell, but American director Steven Soderbergh is showing his last film at the festival and has actually won the award before. Winning would make him one of seven directors in history to take home two palms.