The latest issue of the All My Stars newsletter got me reading about Crash (1996). It was obviously a very contraversial film, that much I remember. There was some monocle-popping from Francis Ford Coppola on the Cannes jury; he refused to present the award that the film went on to win. What’s funny though is that the film won the Special Jury Prize, not just the Jury Prize. What’s the difference? Well I looked it up:
In 1946, a prize named International Jury Prize was awarded for that year only. Starting from 1951, the Special Jury Prize (Prix spécial du Jury) was awarded among other secondary prizes. In 1954, after a lot of criticism about the whimsical nature of these awards, the Festival authorities decided to turn to a more traditional prize-giving arrangement. In 1967, with the creation of the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury, the second in importance prize after the Palme d’Or, the Special Jury Prize gave its place to the Jury Prize and has been awarded under this name since. Six times in the 1970s, three in the 1980s and in 2001, no Jury Prize was awarded. The Special Jury Prize reappeared only twice, once in 1995, given along with the Jury Prize, and once in 1996, as the only prize of the Jury.
There’s something about the “criticism about the whimsical nature of these awards” that really tickled me. Of course these guys (yeah, guys) were just making shit up and basically handing out superlatives to a chorus of whatever the gallic “here, here” is.