Andrea Arnold’s ‘Bird’ Takes Flight at Cannes Film Festival With 7-Minute Standing Ovation

Andrea Arnold‘s anticipated new film Bird touched down at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday for an afternoon world premiere at the Grand Lumiere Theatre. And it got a warm reception, including a seven-minute standing ovation.

The competition title stars Barry Keoghan, Franz Rogowski, Nykiya Adams and Jason Buda star in the film which follows a 12-year-old (Adams) who lives with her brother (Buda) and single dad (Keoghan) in a squat in North Kent. As she approaches puberty she seeks attention and adventure elsewhere. The drudgery of everyday life is thrown off kilter when she meets Bird (Rogowski).

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The showing marked a triumphant return to Cannes for Arnold, who has become one of the festival’s most beloved and award-winning veterans. She last was on the Croisette to present her film, Cow, in 2021. Before that, she picked up a jury prize in 2016 for American Honey, a fable of life in the U.S. for a set of troubled youth. She added that one to her stable of jury prize honors from Cannes that she picked up in 2006 for Red Road and again in 2008 for Fish Tank.

And what a return it has been so far. On Wednesday, the British director took to the stage to accept the 2024 Carrosse d’Or, or Golden Coach Award, at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, which runs alongside the Cannes Film Festival, joining an esteemed group of past winners like Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Jia Zhangke, Jane Campion, Jim Jarmusch, Kelly Reichardt and Clint Eastwood. The honor, launched in 2002, is bestowed by the Society of French Directors, the governing body of the Cannes sidebar, to filmmakers showcasing “innovative qualities, courage and independent-mindedness.”

The fact that she was selected to receive it from other directors meant so much to Arnold, she detailed during her acceptance speech which also included her comments about what a painful journey it has been in making Bird, one of the toughest shoots of her career.


“When I got the email about this lovely Golden Coach, I was in the middle of the edit of the film that is showing here at Cannes tomorrow called Bird. It was the hardest film I ever made. There were many challenges, more than usual, and there seemed to be more restrictions than I’d ever known,” she said, holding back tears at one point. “Lots of things I’ve put on the page and cared about got lost, so the edit was really hard. It was proving really hard to carve from the rushes something of the film I had intended. I was grieving the losses and I felt pretty vulnerable. Then in the middle of that, I got this email out the blue about the Golden Coach.”

She knew her fellow directors would know what it takes to mount a film and weather such challenges. “It made me feel that others were standing with me. It renewed my energy and determination to keep at what I was doing, to try finding the film, the essence of what I had intended. It made me think too about what it means to be supportive, encouraged, and encouraged, and how crucial it is.”

In other Bird news, arthouse streamer Mubi snatched up rights for U.K. and Ireland ahead of the film’s premiere. Bird was produced by Tessa Ross, Juliette Howell and Lee Groombridge for House Productions (The Iron Claw, The Wonder).

After the premiere on a sunny Thursday, Arnold directed brief comments to the crowd in attendance, thanking her audience.

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