Cannes: Immigrants 1, Lesbians 0

The debate around the world about what to do with growing waves of desperate migrants will be spurred by a Cannes Film Festival triumph for a movie that looks at the plight of a refugee hero.

“Dheepan”, a French movie about a Sri Lankan former soldier’s struggles in a Paris ghetto in the grip of narco-gangs, didn’t set out to tackle that wider thorny issue.

But the fact that the film’s win comes as refugee boats set off across Asian waters and the Mediterranean — the same sea lapping at glittering Cannes and its super-yachts — inevitably means it will figure in that context.

“It’s important to reflect on the situation,” the movie’s director, Jacques Audiard, admitted to reporters insistently raising the question.

But he stressed, “I started writing the screenplay four or five years ago and the situation wasn’t as critical as it is now”.

Nevertheless, “if it helps the situation, then so much the better”.

The movie won’t begin its release in cinemas for another three months. Its Cannes win will no doubt take it to countries that might otherwise have not seen it.

Some of those countries are ones grappling with the problem of immigrants.

A Hungarian movie taking viewers inside Auschwitz, “Son of Saul”, picked up the runner-up Grand Prize for its narrow but powerful look at the Holocaust.

The best actress award was something of an upset, confounding critics who had thought Australian star Cate Blanchett was untouchable for her turn in an American period lesbian drama, “Carol”.

Instead Blanchett’s co-star, Rooney Mara, and an actress in a French relationship drama called “Mon Roi”, Emmanuelle Bercot, ended up sharing the trophy.